This week, Sports On TV covers the greatest sports moments of the best cartoon on television, Cartoon Network’s ‘Adventure Time.’ If you aren’t familiar with the show, it follows the various quests and activities of a human boy and his dog as they live and fight monsters in the Land of Ooo, a post-apocalyptic Earth full of candy people, inter-dimensional vampire demons, anus-obsessed ghosts and every D&D joke imaginable. It’s a show you either love from the moment you give it a shot, or spend the rest of your life side-eying. Hopefully you’re in the first group.
Be sure to check out the moments and the other Sports On TV columns after the jump, and don’t miss the Peppermint Butler commenting badge we’re giving you for sharing our list around and dropping a comment. Do that, and you’re tops blooby.
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Episode: “In Your Footsteps” (season 4, episode 7)
What Happens: In one of my favorite episodes ever, Finn saves a bear from choking and ends up bringing it back to his house to hang out. The bear (who is totally tops blooby) mimics everything he does and Finn loves it, but Jake thinks something’s up. They end up getting at each others’ throats about it, and have a huge fight in front of BMO, who has just returned from soccer practice. In the interest of context, BMO is basically a sentient Game Boy with imaginary friends who serves as a gaming console, VCR, projector, alarm clock and any other electronic appliance the guys might need. Also he is … sort of a living child? With a Korean accent. I don’t know, this show gets pretty off the deep end before you even start describing the plot.
Key line: “You and MC Cool Friend can go stink it up at your Finn party because I’m not coming!”
BMO is my favorite character on the show by a mile. It celebrates everything I love about ‘Adventure Time’ … legitimate weirdness, great writing, beautiful music, rampant violence and unexpected sadness. For example, watch as poor BMO sits in his dirty soccer clothes, listening to his parents fight.
‘Captain N: The Game Master’ should’ve gone in this direction with its Game Boy character, instead of making it a colossal pile of crap.
Episode: “Simon and Marcy” (season 5, episode 14)
What Happens: Speaking of unexpected sadness, one of the most heartbreaking parts of the show is the relationship between the Ice King (the show’s primary villain, voiced by Spongebob) and Marceline The Vampire Queen (the one your friend who shops at Hot Topic is in love with). I won’t spoil it here, because it’s legitimately one of the best discoveries in the show’s run. Anyway, this episode begins with Finn and Jake playing basketball at Marceline’s house and discovering that she’s invited the Ice King, who is usually only around to kidnap a lady, or stand still for days in an invincible suit of ice armor. Marceline tells them the story of why she’s compassionate towards him, and it’s one of those ‘Adventure Time’ episodes that makes you forget you’re watching an ADD cartoon for children. Also, dunks happen.
Key line: “Marceline, why did you ask ancient chumps to play basketball?”
It’s hard to do a Sports On TV for a show set 1000 years after “The Great Mushroom War,” where it’s like, yeah, Castle Lemongrab has catchers’ mitts on pedestals for some reason, but they aren’t formally playing baseball. A lot of the moments on the list are stretched a bit for the sake of inclusion/wanting to write about ‘Adventure Time,’ but nope, they just straight-up play basketball. Good to know that in the event of a world-changing event, basketball will make it through unchanged.
(Watch this episode, though, seriously. It’s the most you’ll ever cry about ‘Cheers’ without ‘Cheers’ being on.)
Episode: “Five Short Graybles” (season 4, episode 2)
What Happens: Lumpy Space Princess, most succinctly described as “a purple cloud that is also a pissed off teenager,” hopes to win a talent show with her rendition of the hit song ‘These Lumps.’ She’s feeling good about it — her only competition is a guy making 2 out of 10 free throws. BUT WAIT, just before she goes out on stage, a group of girls performs their OWN version of ‘These Lumps’ (which makes way less sense, because the group doesn’t have anybody lumpy in it, and features a chocolate-covered strawberry lady and a brown thing in a pajama shirt that says “MOON DADDY”). LSP nervously starts the song anyway, but the crowd turns on her, calling her a rip-off. She becomes enraged and starts throwing basketballs at them, but the balls all bounce back into the net, and she is accidentally a trick shot star. You know, like every actual trick shot star.
Key line: This:
It really is a sad talent show.
“Five Short Graybles” is a fun episode in the vein of “22 Short Films About Springfield,” where we just follow secondary characters around and watch them be weird. LSP’s story is my favorite, but it’s almost topped by BMO, who has a conversation in the mirror with its reflection, helpfully named “Football.” Turns out BMO isn’t a robot, but a real living boy. Also, the key to being alive is brushing your teeth and trying to force soap into your mouth.
(If you’ve never seen the show, I know it seems like I’m just typing random words, but I promise this all makes sense.)
Episode: “Blood Under the Skin” (season 2, episode 4)
What Happens: Finally, a real sport.
Finn gets convinced that he needs a suit of armor to be a real hero, so they go on a quest to find the Magical Armor of Zeldron and run into a bunch of embarrassing situations. The best/worst of those is DROP BALL, an exciting game created by the ghost who guards the armor, wherein the players must squat above a ball and pick it up with their ass to score points. His intimidating high score is six.
Key line: “Drop Ball is an extremely addictive, high-intensity game designed for people everywhere!”
Drop Ball in action:
I love that they’ve got to say “glob” instead of “God,” but that instructing children about a game where you pick up stuff with your butthole is totally good. That weird old ‘Ren & Stimpy’ rule where my parents strictly forbid me to hear curse words or see boobs, but are fine with me watching characters eat boogers off the bottom of a table. And they wonder why we grow up so weird and childish.
Regardless, playing drop ball against a ghost is probably the most terrifying idea I’ve ever considered, drawn adorably.
Episode: “Prisoners of Love” (season 1, episode 4)
What Happens: The Ice King wants to marry a princess, so he kidnaps ALL princesses and imprisons them so he can make an educated decision. Finn and Jake show up to save the day and end up imprisoned themselves, where they find out how perverse the Ice King’s delusions and obsessions can be. They escape by convincing the Ice King that the princesses want to dance and party with him in the jail cell, and he falls for it because his brain is being rotted by a magical crown and he just hangs out with penguins and writes fan-fic and plays drums all day.
He’s a pretty sick guy, though. Evidence:
Key line: “He’s held us here for weeks, questioning us about our favorite sports and quirky behavior. We’ve tried to tell him as little as possible.”
I wish there was a long deleted scene where we find out how everyone answered. I know the Hot Dog Princess is super into pro wrestling, right?
I came to the realization a while back that I am basically the Ice King. I’m old, I’ve got a beard, I like penguins, I love women but have terrible relationships with almost all of them, I go back and forth between being fit and fat and I used to be a completely different person. I would sincerely like to know which sports the various princess are into. Also, I am great at making ice.
Episode: “Crystals Have Power” (season 2, episode 8)
What Happens: Finn finds a crystal on his doorstep and wonders where it’s from, but Jake interrupts him, goading him into a TOUGH GUY CONTEST~. In round one, they have to break things over their knee. Round two is about who can resist crying when pinched (even in the nipples), and round three is a wrestling contest. Jake uses his stretchy powers to escape a headlock and accidentally hurts Finn, causing him to have a flashback to childhood, reliving the moment when he got too “rough and tumble” with his brother and knocked him out in a boxing match.
Key line: “Come on, man! Tough Guy Contest me!”
Here’s the Tough Guy Contest in its full glory.
The slow motion tear is great, but my favorite part is Finn’s Randy Orton chinlock. He’s got that thing locked in.
The flashback is funny, too, as is any time we get to see Jake’s parents. They’re just Jake wearing hats, and they’re like characters from ‘Boardwalk Empire.’
Episode: “Hug Wolf” (season 4, episode 8)
What Happens: In an episode mostly about Finn being hugged by a werewolf and being compelled to unconsciously hug people at night, we get a look at one of BMO’s sports games, ‘Portender Defender.’ In it, a baseball player throws fastballs at wolf men. I think he plays for the Brewers? No idea.
Key line: “When you see the wicker devil in tree afterlife, tell him Jake says hello.”
For the record, BMO also has a racing game, as seen here.
(Pretty sure that one is Super Sprint.)
Episode: “Donny” (season 1, episode 21)
What Happens: Finn and Jake encounter “Donny,” a grass ogre who won’t stop terrorizing a town full of little house people and just generally being a jerk. Finn has one of his characteristic “let’s let this obnoxious thing come home with us because it entertains me” moments, unaware of what removing Donny from his natural habitat will do to the ecosystem. The house people start getting eaten by Why-Wolves. If the Why-Wolves aren’t stopped, and I quote, they will “ravage the world and overpopulate until the Cosmic Owl would be forced to intervene by devouring them all, as is the course of nature.” Eesh.
Key line: ” So you wanna wrestle, huh? ‘Cause I know, like, this ninja move to get out of this lock instantly! Okay… Now, first I… Hey! You’re doin’ it wrong!!”
Donny challenges Finn to a wrestling match, then immediately starts pulling that “I know everything about everything/hey stop it I’m not ready” thing someone you know used to pull when you were kids. Everybody knew a kid like that. Like Dermott from ‘The Venture Bros.’ He’s the kid who invited you over to play video games and played them one player, and said “hold on let me show you something” every time it was your turn. I hate you so much, Donny archetype.
Finn’s “chokey brokey style” comes into play again here, where he just locks in what looks like a sleeper hold might if you were wrestling a grass ogre with a head the size of your body. Donny claims he can break it, but he can’t, because Finn is an ersatz judo master.
Episode: “Mystery Train” (season 2, episode 19)
What Happens: Jake and Finn take a train ride to “Finn’s birthday present” and find themselves caught up in a murder mystery, where train passengers are being murdered one-by-one. The most likely suspect is the weird and creepy train conductor, a pink-skinned guy who ends every sentences with a maniacal “heh heh heh heh heh.” He is also into skateboarding, and proudly announces “heh, ollie” after he ollies into the train car.
(Spoiler alert: The real culprit of the murders turns out to be Jake, who has used his stretchy powers and paint to impersonate the creepy conductor. Turns out the murder mystery was Finn’s present. But no, ‘Adventure Time’ is not afraid to horrifically murder its own cast.)
Key line: “I’m not weird and creepy. I’m cool and awesome.”
Jake’s dialogue after the Conductor’s line is my favorite:
“The conductor was just here, and he was weirder and creepier than before.”
“What? No way, he was cool and awesome.”
The conductor skateboarding is actually one of three ‘Adventure Time’ skateboarding moments I can recall. BMO shows up skateboarding in ‘Card Wars,’ a great episode about tabletop card games, and the ‘Adventure Time’ comic book features a SKATEBOARD PRINCESS.
Episode: “Go With Me” (season 2, episode 20)
What Happens: Finn wants to see a movie on “couples night,” but finds out that his friends just use that as an excuse to make out with their significant others. He tries to call up a girl he can take without having to kiss her (Princess Bubblegum), but she turns him down because she’s practicing for something called the Whistling Choir Death Match Championship. All we ever see of it is the practicing, and that’s just her sitting in a chair whistling, but I like to imagine it involves barbed-wire baseball bats and table bumps.
Key line: “Yeah, yeah. So, what’s so funny, Finn?” “I, um… uh… it’s… something.” “Well, then, keep it down out there! I’m trying to whistle practice!”
It’s probably just whistling, but you never know. I mean, when they had a Wizard Battle they did it in an abandoned football stadium, so sports in the Land of Ooo can happen anywhere at any time.
The actual episode is cute, with Finn enlisting the help of Marceline to make Bubblegum jealous, Marceline thinking Finn’s into her, and them ultimately going to the movies together as friends. By “going to the movie as friends” I of course mean “they start throwing up 30 seconds into the movie, jump through the screen and start riding wolves over the making out couples.” Same difference.
Episode: “What is Life?” (season 1, episode 15)
What Happens: This isn’t a specific sports moment, but no list of ‘Adventure Time’ sports content can be complete without MUSCLE PRINCESS, a gigantic green muscle lady who carries around dumbbells 24/7 and may or may not be a descendant of Muscleman from ‘Regular Show.’ She gets her first major role in an episode where Finn tries to get a lock of her hair to satiate the superficial desires of an ugly tree witch, where she misinterprets the quest as love, urging Finn to get “more serious about loving her.” She is awesome.
Key line: “Of course it looks bad! If I had beautiful shiny hair, no one would look at my muscles! Come back when you want to get serious about loving me!”
After that, she appears in an episode where Ice King has resorted to hacking off body parts from princesses to make his perfect mate. He cuts off her left arm. It’s inconvenient, but she seems pretty happy about still having the right.
Also, here’s an important fact from the wiki:
According to [character designer] Natasha Allegri, she has the biggest breasts of all the princesses.
Muscle Princess is the Sailor Jupiter of ‘Adventure Time.’ Got it.
Episode: “The New Frontier” (season 3, episode 18)
What Happens: Jake has a “croak dream,” a premonition on exactly how he’ll die. It involves him being lost in space and suffocating. Finn’s not there, but a Banana Man is. When a Banana Man knocks on their door, they freak out and decide to follow him back to his home, where they discover a rocket ship in his back yard. They also look through his window and find him putting on a space helmet and dancing/doing Hindu squats to an exercise tape.
Key line: This:
Things start to look bad for Jake (with so much of his croak dream coming true), but there’s one catch: Finn wasn’t there. Because of this, Finn decides to stay at his buddy’s side all the time, to make sure he’ll always be okay, and never end up croaking in space.
For the record, the Banana Man is voiced by Weird Al, which I didn’t know until I started doing research for this column.
Episode: “Return to the Nightosphere” (season 4, episode 5)
What Happens: Marceline’s dad — Hunson Abadeer, supreme ruler of an alternate dimension called ‘The Nightosphere,’ which is basically Hell — imprisons Finn and Jake, and they can’t remember why. This leads to an episode that is mostly about the miserable experience of waiting in line, and features one of the best and most obscure background gags ‘Adventure Time’ has ever done. In Abadeer’s home, we see two framed portraits … one of him with Abraham Lincoln (who has since become an immortal and the King of Mars), and another of him golfing with Peppermint Butler as the caddy.
Key line: “Marceline’s in trouble! We gotta go back and save her.” “All right, but I’m gonna take a shower first.”
Peppermint Butler (or “Pep-But”) is one of the most unnecessarily complex characters on a show full of them, as he’s literally a large piece of peppermint candy employed as a butler for Princess Bubblegum, but he’s also a dark magician who knows a lot about the Land of the Dead, can counsel a dimension-ruling demon on the finer points of the golf and is an accomplished public singer.