The 7 Things That Made Adventure Time A Success

Adventure Time Promo art

Soon to be premiering its third season, Adventure Time has been on a seriously roll since it was first broadcast all the way back in 2010. Is there some kind of secret sauce that Pendleton Ward and co. have been hiding from everyone else? The answer is no, but there are a few things that the team, the studio and the network have done to ensure the shows success.

1. It’s Premise

Two best friends living in a magical land called Ooo? How could that not be special? How about if one of them was a magical dog who could talk? Even more so of course! The setup for Adventure Time is the ideal cartoon setting in that it allows for plenty of room for story. Being magical and all that, there have been no shortage of stories that make full use of such a location.

2. The Diverse Characters

Adventure Time is chock full of quirky characters who fill an episode and make it all the more fun to watch. Besides that, the regular cast are a diverse crowd, with a human, a talking dog, a bubblegum princess, a vampire and a flying ‘rainacorn’. Much like the Land of Ooo, the core characters are suitably different and complex as to permit a wide array of stories to be centered around them.

3. The Original Short

The original short, was part of Frederator’s Random! Cartoons and was broadcast on Nickelodeon back in 2008. Since Nickelodeon declined to pick up the series, it could have sat on the shelf for a year and a half. Instead, someone (somewhere) was clever enough to ensure that the short made it onto YouTube. In no time at all, it had ratcheted up over a million hits and a pseudo-cult following.

Besides that, the short was also extremely effective at introducing the world, the cast of characters and the kind of situations they have to deal with in the land of Ooo. Such a solid base was perfect as the foundation for the show’s fans on which to grow.

4. Getting Picked Up

With a bit of internet popularity, there was already an audience waiting for a series, so it came as no surprise when Cartoon Network announced their acquisition of the series, that there were many fast-paced discussions on forums as to how the show would turn out. As a result, the show’s premiere was one of the highest watched in Cartoon Network history and the show has remained a top ratings winner ever since.

The key here is that thanks to the show being on YouTube, it already had a group of people who wanted to see it. As such, it was easier for the creators and network figure out which direction the show should go in and what made it so popular in the first place.

5. The Tumblelog

The good folks at Frederator have run production blogs for all their shows since My Life as a Teenage Robot so it is no surprise that they have one for Adventure Time too. Stretching all the way back to the original short, there is literally hundreds of bits and bobs from the show like character model sheets, colour studies, sketches, storyboards and promotional art. It’s a veritable treasure trove of Adventure Time paraphernalia.

Why this is so important is because until now, the vast majority of shows normally hide such stuff away and try and keep it out of the public’s eye until at least the show’s premiere (the common fear is ‘piracy’). Posting such a large amount of art on a regular basis only served to whet the appetite of the fans, however, and when the first series was broadcast, many fans were already familiar with the episodes and were anticipating them even more.

6. The Secret Sauce of Awesomeness

[Shhh, don’t tell anyone]

7. Actively Engaging The Fans

I wrote about this last year sometime, but it is still something of a rarity in the cartoon landscape in that the producers actively engage fans and encourage them in many ways. Of note is the original tumblelog but also the many many fansites that have sprung up. The official tumblelog also requests, accepts and posts fanart and pictures of people either cosplaying or wearing Adventure Time clothing. No other show (outside of Frederator) seems to be doing this even though it has immensely helped cement the show’s reputation as being fan-friendly.

Conclusion

So there you have it, seven things that have helped Adventure Time become the success it is today. It should serve as a role model for other shows on how to successfully grow your viewer base into a fan base.

 

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14 Comments on “The 7 Things That Made Adventure Time A Success

    • That’s because my counting skills seem to inhibited at 6 o’clock in the morning and I wanted to get to the magic number of 7. All fixed now, thanks for pointing it out 🙂

  1. One of the main reasons it’s huge is how it actually leaves you questioning something, what happened to all the humans? There’s always that mystery, it gives the show a hidden backstory that most other shows don’t have. and also how there are some sly hints to a darker side of the land of Ooo. if you pay attention to the opening credits there are undetonated a-bombs in the ground, in one of the episodes you see the planet for a brief second and it looks quite similar to earth but with a huge chunk blown out of the side! what’s with that? and in another episode jake the dog talks about the “great mushroom war”, what can you think of in war that makes a mushroom? an atomic explosion maybe? it kind really has an amazing storyline if you pay attention.

    • Admittedly the somewhat dark undertone you describe adds an extra layer of depth to the series and helps give it its slightly off-kilter nature. Perhaps we shall see it explained at some point 🙂

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  6. you didnt mention a very key aspect in the series, the plot of finn trying to be with princess bubblegum which is not an easy task is a great way to have many cliffhangers that could end in numerous ways. By the end of it you’ll be wondering what hes gonna do next to try and win her heart ( even though now he’s with fire princess)

    • That would probably have come under the ‘Diverse Characters’ point but I do agree that they’ve also created a wonderfully complex set of relationships for them all. It’s the icing on the cake!

  7. 7 reasons why Adventure Time absolutely sucks.
    1. Incredibly cliche, ever plotline of every episode has been done to death before.
    2. Bland characters that are badly designed and annoying.
    3. Awful art style that makes Hannah Barbera look like Miyazaki
    4. Bad jokes that are just lame fart jokes, made on the spot jokes or stupid comebacks.
    5. Infinite amounts of plotholes, most of which the show doesn’t explain.
    6. Boring, seriously the jokes & dialogue are so flat and the animation is so lackluster I don’t know how anyone stays awake watching it.
    7. The fanboys, 95% take any criticism of the show as a personal insult and a lot of them are sexual deviants who draw inappropriate pictures of the characters of the show.

  8. What has happen to the cartoons these days man, Adventure Time is a demonic show and should not be aired on cartoon network

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