Adventure Time showrunner Adam Muto revealed that Cartoon Network was initially hesitant about one major change that took place during the original series.
Muto took over for the original creator of the hit animated series Pendleton Ward who left the title during Season 5, citing the show was affecting his "quality of life" (via Rolling Stone).
Following the charismatic Finn the Human and Jake the Dog in the Land of Ooo, Adventure Time may have started as an episodic problem-of-the-week show, but went on to become a sprawling serialized epic with fans all over the world.
Cartoon Network Questioned One Adventure Time Change
Cartoon Network was apparently initially opposed to a big change that came to Adventure Time mid-run, according to showrunner Adam Muto.
In an interview with Screen Rant, Muto revealed "[the network was] resistant at first" when they pitched the idea to move the series from an episodic format to "lore-heavy serialized stuff:"
"What's strange is that they were resistant at first, but then it became sort of a marketing thing, like you could package a bunch of episodes together and promote it as an event. And it was a lot harder to get promos for individual episodes."
Eventually, the messaging got through and the network started pitching the idea of “an eight pack or a 10 pack of episodes that we can kind of lump together:”
"So it wasn't like we were the only show. They were kind of going to a lot of shows and saying, ‘Hey, we want an eight pack or a 10 pack of episodes that we can kind of lump together’ and even in the later seasons of some of the shows that are still running. Like the last season of 'Summer Camp' Island that was like one big arc."
Muto added "some of that comes from the creators, and some of that came from the network:"
"And some of that comes from the creators, and some of that came from the network itself, just having a harder time promoting individual episodes."
Was Adventure Time's Serialized Change Worth It?
While at the time it may have seemed like a big jump for a cartoon like Adventure Time to move from smaller bite-sized single-episode stories to the sprawling epic it would become known for, it is hard to deny just how successful this news was.
The show garnered respectable ratings during its first couple of seasons when things were episodic, but it did not become the dominating smash hit until things became more serialized.
The first season averaged 2 million viewers an episode (which is an accomplishment) but would go on to reach over 3 million in some successive seasons (via By The Numbers).
Plus this serialized change allowed Muto and the Adventure Time creative team to more deeply explore the world, setting in place the narrative tendrils that would go on to serve as the narrative foundation of the show's two spin-offs (the latest of which, Fionna and Cake, just ended its run).
The episodic Adventure Time was a fun successful animated series, but the serialized Adventure Time turned the show into the juggernaut it would go on to become.
Adventure Time can be streamed now on Max.