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The Adventure Time Episodes Fans Want First-Time Watchers To See

If there's one thing "Adventure Time" proves time and time again, it's that anything is possible when you're with Jake the Dog (John DiMaggio) and Finn the Human (Jeremy Shada). The animated series goes above and beyond the traditional formula of your everyday children's cartoon, building a world that people of all ages can enjoy. The wondrous Land of Ooo is full of excitement, enchantment, and ancient evils ready to pounce at the first sign of weakness. Even when the series features dance parties and candy palaces, the post-apocalyptic setting allows for the development of complex mythology.

The show explores coming-of-age themes like friendship, the true meaning of heroism, and the importance of growth, a tactic that allows the characters to develop over the course of the narrative. The flexible nature of the story gives each episode room to be unique, and the show includes plot lines that embrace emotions like elation, heartache, fear, and loyalty. With endlessly quotable characters like Lumpy Space Princess (voiced by series creator Pendleton Ward) running around, it's almost impossible to rank the best episodes of "Adventure Time." However, one Reddit thread points to a few installments that should be considered mandatory viewing for first-time watchers.

What Was Missing (Season 3, Episode 10)

One fan-favorite is an installment titled "What Was Missing." This Season 3 episode showcases the camaraderie between the main characters when the sudden appearance of a thieving Door Lord forces Finn, Jake, Marceline (Olivia Olson), Princess Bubblegum (Hynden Walch), and BMO (Niki Yang) to team up in order to recover their stolen belongings. To unlock the Door Lord's sanctum, they have to band together and write a catchy tune. It takes them several attempts to get it right, adding to the show's impressive discography. "'I'm Just Your Problem' has been my favorite song in the series ever since I saw the episode premiere. (PS the start of Bubbline)," writes u/RyvalHEX.

The episode features one of the earliest nods to the romantic chemistry between Marceline and Princess Bubblegum, a pairing lovingly dubbed "Bubbline." With a startling tension that jumps off the screen, it's hard to ignore their obvious history, even as Finn fights for the royal's attention. On the other hand, Reddit u/lemonthottie thinks the episode's success is because of a simple combination: "nostalgia, great songs, cool outfits." Ultimately, the episode dives deep into how all the characters relate to each other. The memorable soundtrack is just an added bonus.

I Remember You (Season 4, Episode 25)

The Season 4 episode "I Remember You" is a departure from the show's typical formula, but that doesn't make the installment any less outstanding. Rather than focusing on Finn and Jake, the narrative follows the Ice King (Tom Kenny) as he attempts to get Marceline to write a song with him. Despite the vampire queen's reluctance, Marceline ultimately takes pity on the magical monarch. As the episode progresses, it's revealed that these characters share a complicated history. In fact, they met when Marcy was just a child and the Ice King was a human named Simon Petrikov.

"The Simon and Marcy backstory is just amazing," wrote Reddit u/RyvalHEX. The episode sheds light on how Marceline and Simon helped each other survive in the aftermath of the Mushroom War. They became like family to one another, but the power of the Ice King's crown eventually warped Simon's mind so thoroughly that he no longer remembers Marceline. In the present, Marceline uses music to work through the trauma of Simon's abandonment and subsequent transformation. It's a deeply tragic installment that reminds viewers that while Finn is indeed human, his centuries-old friends have plenty of skeletons in their closets.

The Hall of Egress (Season 7, Episode 24)

"The Hall of Egress" is an episode that hones in on the mind-bending, fantastical storytelling techniques that the series frequently employs. When Finn and Jake decide to explore an abandoned dungeon, the pair are quickly separated when a booby trap leaves Finn locked inside by himself. He eventually finds a mysterious chamber with an odd door that will allow him to leave, but only if he keeps his eyes closed. The moment he opens the door, Finn returns to that dismal ruin. In order to free himself from the Hall of Egress, Finn must embark on a dream-like solo journey that takes him all across the Land of Ooo.

"I CONSTANTLY rewatch this episode. It's probably my absolute FAVORITE Finn-On-An-Adventure-Alone episode of the entire series. The concept is just so unique and interesting," wrote Reddit u/TheFemaleReviewer. When our hero finally manages to free himself, his relief is palpable. For Jake, it's been minutes, but for Finn, it's been much, much longer. He's elated to see his friend again, but it's hard to focus on that joy when you see the despair and desperation lingering in Finn's eyes. The episode serves as a pointed reminder that Finn will have to face some challenges with nothing but his instincts.