Are you interested in watching Adventure Time, but intimidated by the thought of watching 252 episodes? Have you watched the series before, but want to watch again without any filler episodes (unless it’s Bubbline, of course)? This is for you!
After seeing a request in the ATimers tag, I have compiled a list of all the Adventure Time episodes that contain major plot, important backstory, major characterization, and/or Bubbline moments. I have also included optional episodes that I think will increase your understanding/enjoyment of the show (I put the reason next to it; if it says something about being an arc, backstory, characterization, etc., be warned that not watching may make the major plot points of the show a bit more confusing for you).
I condensed the show down to 128 of the 10-minute episodes (69 episodes if you don’t watch any of the optional episodes). Optional episodes are in italics. Episodes with Bubbline moments, characterization of Marcy/Princess Bubblegum (PB), or major backstory/plot related to Marcy/PB are in bold. Anything with a an asterisk (*) can be watched at any time (order doesn’t matter, though you may still want to watch it in the same season).
I hope this helps someone out since I spent three hours putting it together! Without further ado…
UPDATE:Time Sandwhich has been added to the list, as suggested by yellowdartvoice
So all this hype made you want to watch Adventure Time, but just for the cute couple gal pals? (Or you just want to watch the show itself, in which case another guide is coming soon.) Yet you’re intimidated by the 226 episodes that have aired so far? Fear not, here’s your guide to Bubbline that includes their shared episodes as well as those that help you understand them as individual characters. I know you could just go to wikia and see what episode features both Marceline (the punk-rock vampire one) and Princess Bubblegum (the scientific pink one), but come on, you want to understand their story, don’t you? Which is why I made this guide (and it’s not procrastinating, not at all).
The episodes themselves are gonna be under the cut because, well, out of 226 I listed 71 of them. I know, I know, I was supposed to narrow it down, but most of these are optional ones that only feature one or neither of them. If you watch all of these 71 episodes then cool, you have a general understanding of Adventure Time’s most important plot points and know pretty much everything there is to know about Marceline and Bubblegum. If you don’t want to and are only here for the real action, you can find the ones to watch on this list.
Overall, there are 13 core episodes (including all of Stakes), 21 recommended and 37 optional ones (tho some are more important than others). Watching just the core episodes is not that recommended, since you will be confused during later episodes and I don’t think one can appreciate, say, Varmints, as much, but hey, you can of course just watch these.
These 13 episodes are:
s2ep20: Go With Me
s3ep10: What Was Missing
s5ep29: Sky Witch
s7ep6-13: all 8 episodes of Stakes (srsly, watch them all)
s7ep27: Broke His Crown
Okay, so Go With Me is more like a prologue for Bubbline and Stakes centers around Marceline, but I’m not willing to cut these out of the core. Now, if you’re also interested in their individual character development, I have more episodes for you, some highly recommended, some entirely optional. I really do hope that even without most of the optional ones you’ll get the overall picture of this show, these characters and their relationship. The 71 episodes are the following:
Analysis Time! Fionna and Cake: Wait...these things have a PURPOSE!?
There are three kinds of people in this silly little fandom of ours:
-People who are neutral towards Fionna and Cake
-People who treat it like a disease
-People who love Marshall Lee
I’m neutral towards the Fionna and Cake episodes. I don’t get excited for them, but I don’t hate them either. But there’s one thing that reigns true throughout the majority of the fandom: people completely miss the point of their narrative purpose.
Yes, you heard right. “Narrative purpose”. Believe it or not, these episodes have a point.
Don’t pass out on me; this is gonna be a long post.
On the surface, the Fionna and Cake episodes just appear to be 10-minute wankfests for the fandom that tell cliche love stories revolving around beloved characters of the opposite gender. But if we were to look deeper into these episodes, past a superficial level, they mean so much more for the established characters we already know and love.
Today, I will be showing you guys how Ice King, Marceline, and Lumpy Space Princess view their relationship with Finn and Jake (and themselves) through telling these stories.
Let’s start with the first episode, ‘Fionna and Cake’.
This entire episode is a story told by Ice King. And it definitely shows.
By and large, this episode and the first story Ice King tells in 'Bad Little Boy’ both end the same way: with Fionna and Cake befriending him, praising him for work he hardly did or not at all, and basically talking him up like he’s the greatest thing on the planet.
It’s not subtle, at all. It’s even less subtle than Lumpy Space Princess’s story, but it makes sense for Ice King’s character. This all just calls back to his very first episode, where the Cosmic Owl tells Ice King that he’s a sociopath.
Everyone, even Lord Monochromicorn, agrees that Ice King is a swell guy. Fionna wanted to marry him, but note that this is the ONLY time something like this is even applied, and it could be written off as Ice King thinking that the only relationship he could have with someone is a romantic one.
But that’s mostly conjecture, and it’s besides the point I’m trying to make. The point is, Ice King writes these stories because he craves companionship of some kind. He is no longer seeking a pure romantic one, for as we can see in 'The Eyes’, the events of 'What Have You Done?’ sparked Ice King’s desire for friendship. He expresses this through fiction after his failed attempts at understanding Finn and Jake’s companionship.
Ice King writes these stories to express his desire, and even tries to make it become a reality in 'Mystery Dungeon’, and then vows to make it so at the end of 'Bad Little Boy’.
And you know what? I bet Finn and Jake are totally willing to become Ice King’s friends, but the man’s sociopathic nature prevents him from doing so. He doesn’t understand how friendship or romance works; why would Prince Gumball just suddenly fall in love with Fionna after saving him? Isn’t that something she (Finn) does on a daily basis? It makes no sense and is badly written for a reason, and that’s how most romance fics go.
Then things get balls-crazy in 'Bad Little Boy’, where for pretty much no reason at all Fionna calls Ice King a “cool guy” and becomes his best friend after stopping Doctor Prince.
On a side note, fun fact about me: I friend-ship Finn and Ice King so hard.
(credit for art goes to Shady the Cat)
Ice King’s self-aggrandizing tendencies go deeper than Fionna and Cake and everyone else loving him in his stories, and that is through Ice Queen.
Throughout their first episode, Ice Queen is cruel, powerful, crafty, and visually desirable, with little to no physical detractors. She’s everything that the Ice King is not, but thinks he is. Subtle, clever writing like that is why I love this show.
Not only that, but she (the Ice King) sees Fionna (Finn) as the reason why she can never find love - because Fionna is hogging all of the princes for herself.
We also see that Cake, like Jake, is akin to give their pal advice on wooing a lady (or man in this case). But whereas Jake gives actual advice…
…Cake gives advice that is either really superficial or just doesn’t apply to the majority of guys (but Ice King thinks it does).
Am I overthinking this a little? Probably; I always try not to go too tin-foil hat on you guys. But this and 'Bad Little Boy’ were written by Rebecca Sugar, and the one thing she did best was, like Jesse Moynihan, storyboard her episodes with a lot of hidden subtext (Lady and Peebles, Burning Low).
So what did we learn from this episode about Ice King? He’s the biggest sociopath this side of Ooo that desperately and pathetically craves attention.
Now let’s turn to 'Bad Little Boy’.
This one was actually the hardest of the three to analyze, because Marceline is actually a good storyteller. For this one, disregard all the romantic biz, because it’s clear that Marceline only included it for the princesses.
We see once again that Ice King has to kidnap people in order for them to hear his crappy stories.
Warning! Possible Over-thinking Ahead!
Even though I read a bunch of talks and analyses on this episode already, all leading to the same conclusions, I’m still on the fence about certain things that this episode is trying to talk about. But with the release of 'The Prince Who Wanted Everything’ pretty much cementing my suspicions that there’s something more to the F+C episodes than what they seem, I’m a lot more open about this one. Plus, once again, it’s Rebecca Sugar. She’s done things like this many times.
So what’s interesting about this episode is that, for the most part, it seems like Marceline is just using Marshall Lee as a self-insert like Ice King did with Ice Queen in the last episode.
He tries to convince everybody that he’s a bad dude
Everybody loves him and is excited to hear him sing
He apparently lacks any of Marceline’s personal problems
And Fionna ditches Gumball to hang out with him, something the real Finn would never do.
It’s interesting to note how the Prince Gumball of Marceline’s story is fickle, uptight and all prim and proper. This isn’t over-analyzing here; it’s obvious that this is how Marceline views Princess Bubblegum, because this simply isn’t the way she’d really act.
Seriously, swap the characters in this scene with Finn and Bubblegum. It just doesn’t make sense.
But further near the end of the episode, you realize that this isn’t Marceline doing a lame self-insert, but is instead using this story to admire Finn and his righteous nobility.
There are several parallels throughout the episode that mirror the two season 1 episodes in which Finn befriended Marceline. These are all likely intended, because some are way too coincidental.
Both Finn and Fionna claim that their animal companion is of great importance…
..which leads to Marceline and Marshall Lee snatching them away (just to mess with them)
Which then leads to the Giant Bat Form fight
And then Marceline and Marshall messes with some emotions
Both 'Henchman’ and 'Bad Little Boy’ ends with our vampires being burned by sunlight, and their little hero saving them.
Here is where the parallel with 'Henchman’ comes into play. Throughout the episode, Marceline mocks Finn’s heroic code, and tries to make him uncomfortable by ordering him to complete a set of tasks that, on a surface level, appear worse than they really seem (just like her).
It runs pretty much hand in hand with how the entire song in 'Bad Little Boy’ is about Marshall Lee is trying to convince Fionna that he’s evil, but she keeps telling him that he isn’t really, and she hangs out with him because Marshall is a friend.
The lyrics bring up some interesting points:
Marshall: Good little girl. Always picking a fight with me, you know that I’m bad… But you’re spending the night with me… What do you want from my world? You’re a good little girl
Fionna: Bad little boy. That’s what you’re acting like, I really don’t buy… that you’re that kind of guy… and if you are, why do you want to hang out with me?
As I’ve said in the past, music is an important tool in storytelling; it can reveal plot details, or give us more information on certain characters to progress them. This song goes with the latter.
Marshall is essentially singing about how Fionna is a hero, a paragon of good in his eyes, and yet she constantly hangs out with him despite being a self-styled villain.
Fionna rebuttals with, just like Finn in the climax of 'Henchman’, she doesn’t think Marshall is as bad as he thinks he is, and if he’s so bad (like Marceline), then why does he even bother hanging out with a hero like her.
Even though he thinks he’s evil for purely superficial reasons (being a demon, descended from the Nightosphere, scaring folks), Fionna, and by proxy Finn, is able to befriend Marshall because she enjoys hanging out with him and knows that he just likes to mess around, similar to the realization Finn makes about Marceline in 'Henchman’.
What you must understand is that Finn showed Marceline a kindness not a lot of people have in her life. He knows what she really is inside, past all the crassness and apparent villainy. He knows she isn’t exactly an angel, yet he doesn’t try to change her because he likes Marceline for who she is, which sadly can’t be said for her jerky ghost friends from 'Heat Signature’, or Ash, or her own father. Why else does he hang out with someone who is apparently “evil”? As Marcy shows us through her story, Finn befriends her because he doesn’t see the bad and enjoys hanging out with her.
Honestly, you could say I’m over-analyzing this and writing me off as being like no better than an MLP “analyzer”. But here’s the thing:
In essence, 'Bad Little Boy’ is Marceline’s way of admiring Finn for liking her for who she is, and how he nor she had to change themselves to be each other’s friend. Finn is true to himself and his personal feelings. On the flip-side Marceline has always made the effort to hide hers (What Was Missing, It Came From the Nightosphere, Marceline’s Closet, I Remember You, Daddy’s Little Monster); it’s practically a part of her character.
Finn lives his life without hiding his feelings (for the most part), and this story is Marceline praising that. Don’t believe me? The very last scene of the story is Marshall admiring how “real” Fionna is, and how he couldn’t force her to be untrue to herself even when her good friend, guilt-tripping her on the apparent bring of death, is telling her to. Fionna, and by proxy Finn, will never be dishonest to themselves unlike Marceline, and by proxy Marshall Lee, who works so hard to build up this fake “bad little boy/girl” persona.
Also Rebecca Sugar. She’s good at subtlety.
I actually loathed 'Bad Little Boy’ first time watching it. I thought it was just a stupid little episode made to satiate the Marshall Lee fangirls. But like Fionna did with Marshall, after taking a deeper look into this beast and seeing it for what it is, and understanding what it was trying to do, I feel it is the second best Marceline episode in terms of telling us about her character, right behind 'What Was Missing?’.
On a final note before moving on to the third and final Fionna and Cake episode, take another look at the title card for 'Bad Little Boy’:
Fionna and Cake are by themselves, playing with dolls of Fionna and Gumball, two close friends. Marshall Lee is in the distance, alone, with a doll of himself. This is purely speculation, but I think this is meant to symbolize how Marshall (and in turn Marceline) is seen as a literal outsider amidst this group of friends, and is a loner that only has himself and thinks of himself.
Anyway, let’s close this off with 'The Prince Who Wanted Everything’ (which is my personal favorite of the three).
…Which I’m not really going to talk too much about, because it doesn’t reveal anything that we didn’t already know about LSP. She’s a brat that thinks she’s the center of the universe. But this episode made me realize that the Fionna and Cake episodes aren’t to pander to the fandom. Why? Because no one was ever asking for a Lumpy Space Prince episode.
I’m not going to spend as much time on this one as I did with 'Bad Little Boy’; it’s so painfully, hilariously ham-fisted that I don’t even need to mention most of the episode.
But I will anyway.
Lumpy Space Prince sees his parents as literal monsters, just like Lumpy Space Princess does. Both “defeat” them by just not caring about their commands of submission, with the prince being more literal.
LSP sees her parents sandwiches as being of literal gold.
The prince’s “handsome spell” is a parallel to LSP thinking everybody wants her lumps.
And it’s completely adorable that Lumpy Space Princess made her BFF Turtle Princess into a cool surfer dude.
This one really wasn’t subtle AT. ALL. So why is it my favorite? Because it’s not subtle at all. It’s so obvious that LSP would make her character seem like the center of the universe; of course she thinks that the only person that is right for her is…herself.
Lumpy Space Prince: We can never marry, you know? I can only be with someone who is my equal in every way, a person so much like me that she doesn’t even exist!
It just fits LSP’s character so well.
But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing worth talking about in this episode.
It’s an ironic turn of events where Ice King is for once the one who is captured and forced read a crappy story.
When the prince regales his story of how he valiantly rebelled against his parents, we know that this is how LSP viewed her little runaway from home, because she’s a bratty teenager.
Throughout the entire episode, Lumpy Space Prince admires Fionna’s rowdy nature, and her apparent lack of hygiene. But here’s the thing: Finn never did anything like this for LSP. If he did, it would make sense why the prince is so appreciative of this free way of life Fionna is inadvertently showing him.
But the only thing Finn ever did for her was in 'Gotcha!’, where he bolsters her self esteem without mentioning her looks.
The parallel here is that Lumpy Space Prince admires how Fionna isn’t captivated by his “handsome spell”, just like how in LSP’s eyes Finn told her she isn’t beautiful because of her lumps. This makes the prince want to know more about the girl inside, and how she lives her life.
Unfortunately, the episode never really expands beyond that. What quickly follows is a series of humorous and over-the-top scenes of the prince being baffled by Fionna’s simple ways of living.
But in reality, Lumpy Space Princess embraced a free way of living on her own. Finn never played a part in that. But perhaps she thinks he did, and this story is her way of thanking him for that. I dunno. It’s a mess and it knows it’s a mess, and that’s why I love it.
Maybe there’s something to be said about all that. After all, the running theme between all three Fionna and Cake episodes is the characters telling each story is expressing how they feel about Finn and Jake and themselves. Ice King sees himself as an amazing person. Marceline sees herself as a villain. LSP sees herself as being the perfect specimen.
That’s all I got for this little analysis. I hope I made you guys realize that there’s more to these Fionna and Cake episodes than what initially appears.
Now what’s in the future? There’s definitely going to be a Flame Prince episode, without a doubt. What I want to know is if Flame Princess will write it. Probably not; I just can’t imagine her doing this sort of thing. But if it is, then it’s likely going to be about Flame Prince trying to rule his kingdom with Fionna desperately wanting to win him back.
Have you ever thought “dang, I’d love to watch Adventure Time, but it’s too long and I don’t want to lose time on filler episodes” Well, search no more cause I have just the thing for you.
Ok, let’s get serious. I made a list of the episodes that are relevant to the plot. Yes, I understand the list is kinda long, but I tried to include everything that’s important to the plot and to each character’s story, and not just focus on Finn and Jake or PB and Marcy. So, there you go. Enjoy it, share it, hate it, I don’t care. List’s under the cut