adventure time cast cartoon network Start watching 'Adventure Time' with these 33 essential episodes“Adventure Time” may seem at first glance like just another silly cartoon for kids. But it is so much more than that, so if you aren’t watching it — you should.

Whether you’re brand-new to this story of a boy and his dog in the land of Ooo, a thousand years after a war that destroyed the Earth, or you’re sort of familiar with it but don’t know where to begin, or you’re a veteran watcher who just wants to hit the highlights, here’s a guide to the key episodes of “Adventure Time” to celebrate the five-year anniversary of when it premiered April 5, 2010.

RELATED: An ‘Adventure Time’ movie is coming

Now, don’t be daunted by the sheer number of them — 33 in total. “Adventure Time” episodes air two per half-hour time slot, so they’re roughly 12 minutes each. You could easily watch all 33 in one day. They’re available on Cartoon Network’s site or on Amazon Prime, plus they constantly replay on TV.

Once you’re caught up, new episodes start back up Thursday, April 16 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on Cartoon Network.

The pilot

There are some changes made from the pilot, which aired as a stand-alone short back in 2007, to the series premiere on April 5, 2010, but it’s worth a watch anyway just to meet the characters in their original forms.
‘Evicted!’, Season 1, episode 12

Jake and Finn meet Marceline for the first time. She will prove to have quite the history within the “Adventure Time” universe, though this is merely her introduction.

‘His Hero,’ Season 1, episode 25

This episode introduces two major characters — Billy, Finn’s hero who preaches non-violence, and the Lich, a major antagonist for the series.

‘It Came from the Nightosphere,’ Season 2, episode 1

Viewers get some insight into Marceline by learning more about her relationship with her father, a demon from the Nightosphere who wants to steal all the souls from Ooo.

‘Susan Strong,’ Season 2, episode 18

Finn discovers a tribe of humans living under the Candy Kingdom, when he had previously thought he was the only human left after the Great Mushroom War. But are they really humans?

‘Mortal Folly’ and ‘Mortal Recoil’, Season 2, episodes 24 and 25

This two-parter sees the Lich return, possessing Princess Bubblegum. Finn and Jake team up with the Ice King to fight the Lich and Bubblegum reverts to her 13-year-old self after being saved.

‘Memory of a Memory,’ Season 3, episode 3

Finn and Jake learn more about Marceline’s past when they must venture into her memory to wake her from a sleeping spell.

‘What Was Missing,’ Season 3, episode 10

Finn, Jake, Bubblegum and Marceline form a band to fight to defeat the Door Lord, which leads (as TV music often does) to some truth-telling songs. Notably, this is the first episode that alludes to a romantic past between Marceline and Princess Bubblegum.

‘The Creeps,’ Season 3, episode 12

This episode seems at first glance like a fun/scary stand-alone that centers around a murder mystery party. And it is all that — but it’s not stand-alone. It introduces something that comes back around two seasons later.

‘Holly Jolly Secrets’ parts 1 and 2, Season 3, episodes 19 and 20

Finn and Jake find the Ice King’s secret video diaries and discover his former life — that of Simon Petrikov, an archaeologist who was driven insane by his cursed crown.

‘Incendium’ and ‘Hot to the Touch,’ Season 3, episode 26 and Season 4, episode 1

Flame Princess is introduced, who becomes an on-going love interest for Finn and an antagonist for Princess Bubblegum.

‘Return to the Nightosphere’ and ‘Daddy’s Little Monster,’ Season 4, episodes 5 and 6

Finn and Jake are trapped in the Nightosphere, where Marceline’s father, Hunson Abadeer, tricks Marceline into becoming an evil demon.

‘In Your Footsteps,’ Season 4, episode 7

A bear tricks Finn into handing over the Enchiridion, a powerful magic book, to the Lich, setting up some dramatic plots for later in the series.

‘I Remember You,” Season 4, episode 25

This tear-jerker reveals the past between the Ice King and Marceline after the fallout from the Great Mushroom War.

‘The Lich,’ ‘Finn the Human’ and ‘Jake the Dog,’ Season 4, epiode 26 and Season 5, episodes 1 and 2

Finn and Jake enlist Billy to help them go after the Lich and his evil plan for the Enchiridion, but nothing is as it seems and by the end of the episode, everything is upside-down.

Finn and Jake must make it right with the help of Prismo the wish granter, making the correct wishes in order to put the world as it once was.

‘Simon & Marcy,’ Season 5, episode 14

More backstory on Marceline and the Ice King. Get the tissues handy.

‘Sky Witch,’ Season 5, episode 30

Marceline and Bubblegum work together to get Marcy’s prized stuffed animal back from Maja the Sky Witch, which demonstrates more of the complicated past Bubblegum and Marceline have together.

‘The Vault,’ Season 5, episode 34

The Green Lady from “The Creeps” comes back, connected to the ghost of a girl named Shoko, who reveals things about Finn’s past life and the beginnings of the Candy Kingdom.

‘Betty,’ Season 5, episode 48

The Ice King is exposed to an anti-
magic being named Bella Noche, which reverts him back to his original form, Simon Petrikov. Finn, Jake and Marceline help Simon get Betty back, but only temporarily, as Betty must defeat Bella Noche in order to save Simon.

‘Billy’s Bucket List,’ ‘Wake Up’ and ‘Escape from the Citadel,’ Season 5, episode 52 and Season 6, episodes 1 and 2

Finn sets out to complete his hero’s bucket list. When he does, an apparition of Billy appears with a huge piece of news for Finn — his biological father Martin is alive.

Finn and Jake help Martin escape from the multiverse prison the Citadel. The Lich tries to kill them all and Finn’s father escapes, leaving Finn and Jake behind. They manage to defeat the Lich, though Finn loses an arm in the process.

‘The Tower,’ Season 6, episode 4

Finn deals with his anger and abandonment issues toward his deadbeat father, ultimately realizing he is a better person than Martin ever was or will be.

‘The Cooler,’ Season 6, episode 22

Flame Princess and Princess Bubblegum are grudgingly forced into a friendship when a natural disaster hits the Flame Kingdom.

‘Evergreen,’ Season 6, episode 24

The origin story of the Ice King’s cursed crown.

‘The Visitor,’ Season 6, episode 27

Finn’s dad Martin is back and once again, he’s being a jerk. But Finn gets to once again be the better person in the face of his questionable biological origins.

‘Dark Purple,’ Season 6, episode 29

Susan Strong is back in a fun little adventure involving the mysterious Super Porp soda factory. But the big reveal at the end is that Susan does not have gills like the other Hyoomans.

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."