The Creator Of ‘Adventure Time’ Explains His Decision To Step Down As Showrunner

Adventure Time is one of the weirdest, trippiest shows on television, and that is by no means a complaint. Despite or because of that — probably because — it has built a rabid following over its six seasons, snowballing in both viewership and its merchandising presence, and becoming one of the most popular cartoons on television.

And that, as creator Pendleton Ward explains in a new Rolling Stone profile, is why he walked away as showrunner in Season 5 without telling anyone.

“To spend that extra energy and time you don’t have, to make something that’s worth making, to make it awesome, wears you out,” he says. A backward red cap hides the top of his head; a checkered shirt buttoned to the top conceals his plump body; and on his face, there is not so much a beard but a hair force field, keeping anything from penetrating the world he’s created for himself. “It’s a beast of a show. And the more popular it gets, the more the ancillary things – like the merchandise and games and everything – keep getting bigger.”

And so, Ward confesses, one day during Season Five, unbeknownst to his fans, “I quit because it was driving me nuts.”

He says this not with sadness or frustration, but with relief. “For me, having quality of life outweighed the need to control this project and make it great all the time.” So he stepped down from running Adventure Time to become simply one of the show’s writers and storyboard artists.

The profile is pretty fascinating, to be honest. Ward seems like a dude who really likes making cartoons and really, really could do without just about everything else. (“That’s the root of what I like doing. Make stuff on my own and fall asleep.”) Definitely worth a read, whether you’re a fan of the show or not.