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Warning! The following contains spoilers to the Adventure Time series finale "Come Along With Me." Read at your own risk!
Adventure Time came to an end recently and, after a bunch of trippiness that only this show could get away with on Cartoon Network, the "Great Gum War" that threatened the Land of Ooo's future was resolved. To some, it may have felt like a pleasant ending, considering nothing too devastating happened and the world was shown to have survived well into the future. However, executive producer and showrunner Adam Muto doesn't quite see it that way. Muto explained why the series finale wasn't all that happy, sharing additional information on how it played into the show's overall premise.
I don't even know how happy it is, to be honest. The future version of Ooo is not that cheery of a place. You get the sense that another apocalypse has sort of happened in the meantime. That was kind of something the show was built on, too. Obviously Shermy [who appears in the episode bookends set further ahead in time] has got Finn-like qualities, and these analogies could exist. The show kind of came out of a conflict --- we kept alluding to the Great Mushroom War. We were never really gonna show that in the life of the show. [But] it made sense to have a conflict like that at the end, or at least be the backdrop. The idea of having all of the characters running at each other and fighting isn't really the spirit of the show. In the end, that conflict is diffused. [There are] so many stories that kind of end with the last stand of a world. I think it is the end, but it just keeps going, and people just keep living their lives.
Adam Muto revealed that while everyone was able to end the Great Gum War amicably, the future timeline essentially reveals that yet another apocalyptic situation successfully came through in the end. That's sort of depressing in a macro sense, although there is some micro-sense hope for the two future friends Shermy and Beth, who appear to take up the mantle of being the new Finn and Jake in this brave new world.
Also sort of depressing is the fact that we don't really learn what becomes of Finn in the time after the finale's events. Although BMO's possession of his mechanical arm, and the inability to remember Finn's name, indicate the world is much further into the future than one might have expected.
Adventure Time's ending is somewhat bleak, considering Ooo eventually has another big event that brings about the kingdom's destruction, but still fits the beloved series' ethos. As Adam Muto reminded Polygon in his interview, the entire show is based on a premise that the weirdness of Ooo and Earth's sporadic human population are the result of the mass detonation of nuclear bombs. So while it's sad that evil eventually triumphed and brought the Ooo of Adventure Time to an end, there's also some bittersweet optimism to be found in life moving on and continuing to thrive regardless.
Adam Muto said Adventure Time's ending really didn't begin to form until the end of Season 8, and even then said it wasn't officially laid out until Cartoon Network told them the show would be ending. Muto revealed that had Adventure Time concluded years earlier, say in Season 5, there probably would've been a completely different ending than what was shown in "Come Along With Me." Optimists may have preferred whatever would have been conceived at that point over how the actual finale played out, although everyone can at least appreciate that Adventure Time essentially laid the groundwork for a potential spinoff that could continue the show's legacy in the future! Provided the animators aren't too busy with other projects or another apocalypse or anything.
Adventure Time is over, but it can still be binged on physical release copies and on Hulu. Those looking for something to watch now that those imaginative fantasies are over should head over to our fall premiere guide and see what's on the way.