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Adventure Time: Fionna And Cake Season 1 Ending Explained

Contains spoilers for "Adventure Time: Fionna & Cake"

The fun will never end. Five years after the "Adventure Time" series finale and two years since the "Adventure Time: Distant Lands" specials offered the definitive conclusion to Finn and Jake's adventures, the beloved Cartoon Network series returns with a slightly more adult-oriented "Adventure Time" spinoff streaming on Max: "Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake." The Ice King's fan fiction universe of gender-swapped "Adventure Time" characters has become a launching point for a 10-episode journey across the multiverse, tying up odds and ends of "Adventure Time" lore while addressing issues of depression, creativity, and healthy relationships.

The overarching story has been a complicated one, requiring extensive background knowledge of the original show to fully get it. The final two episodes of the season, released September 28, resolve the plot satisfyingly but don't make things any less complicated. There's plenty to dig into and analyze about this ending, how the series as a whole resolves its many themes, and what it could possibly mean for potential future seasons or other "Adventure Time" spinoffs.

What you need to remember about the plot of Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake

At the series' start, Cake and Fionna are no longer the adventurers they were in Ice King's fan fiction, but instead a normal cat and a young adult who's struggling with her career. Their universe has changed because of how Simon Petrikov has changed since he stopped being Ice King. Simon attempts a ritual to summon his late love Betty but instead sends Fionna and Cake out of his head into the land of Ooo, where Cake regains her voice and magical powers.

With help from Prismo, the original creator of the gender-swapped universe, Fionna, Cake, and Simon go off on a journey across the multiverse to find a new Ice Crown which theoretically could restore magic to the fanfic world. While on their quest, the trio is on the run from the Scarab, a cosmic auditor who wants to destroy Fionna and Cake's world for being "non-canonical."  Meanwhile, back in Fionna and Cake's world, guitarist Marshall Lee falls in love with candy maker Gary Prince while helping him raise money for a new baking business.

Fionna finds the Ice Crown in a universe that's been destroyed by the Lich. She initially keeps it secret from Cake and Simon out of a desire to protect them, but she gives it to Simon to put on after he's completed the ritual to return them to the world inside his head. The Scarab finds Simon just as he's about to put the crown on, but both are portaled away into yet another world.

What happens in Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake Episode 9?

In Episode 9, "Casper and Nova," Fionna and Cake are back in their home world, simultaneously excited and fearful about what the return of magic to the universe might bring. They meet up with Gary and Marshall, finding out that the two are dating. Gary and Marshall are skeptical about remaking their universe if it would undo their relationship. While Fionna tries to reassure them that their alternate universe counterparts have also fallen in love, she starts to doubt whether undoing what's changed about her world is a good idea.

Before he can put on the crown, however, Simon comes face-to-face with GOLBetty — the fusion of a chaos god and his ex-girlfriend. GOLBetty destroys the Lich, turning him into a floating block, and transfers Simon's consciousness into Shermy, the little cat-boy from the far future seen in the "Adventure Time" series finale. As Shermy, he tries to seek information on ancient talismans through a choose-your-own-adventure book about characters called Casper and Nova. 

While his consciousness is transferred, Simon's body is frozen in place. The Scarab divides into multiple tiny bugs that travel through the portal in Simon's head into Fionna and Cake's world. Though Fionna and friends capture the bugs, Ellis P. lets them loose, and the Scarab reforms.

What happens in Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake Episode 10?

Episode 10, "Cheers," delves into Simon-Shermy's book. He chooses to go with Casper's decisions at every point, ultimately dooming Nova. This is all to teach Simon a lesson about where his relationship with Betty went wrong: By insisting they do things his way every time, he failed to appreciate the extreme sacrifices Betty was making for him.

Cake fights the Scarab, freeing cosmic beings he'd trapped. When the Scarab retrieves his crystal, he starts erasing the universe. As this is happening, Simon finally responds to Fionna's calls. Though he's still prepared to put on the Ice Crown, Fionna tells him not to — it's not worth sacrificing his sanity, and she wants to save the world she lives in now, not some older magical version of it she can't remember. Simon throws the crown away, saying the responsibility of having this universe in his head is just too much. GOLBetty responds by removing the universe from his head, turning it into a dandelion.

Simon passes the dandelion through the still-open head portal and gives it to Fionna. She blows on it, transferring control of the universe to the many people who live in it, effectively making it "canon." The Scarab's weapons are depowered by this, but he still causes destruction. GOLBetty throws Simon across space, returning him to Ooo, while Prismo sends various friends from Fionna and Cake's past adventures into their world as backup against the Scarab. Fionna becomes giant with a size-changing berry and defeats the Scarab.

In one final musical montage, we see that the characters who join Fionna's world in the final battle stay there. Gary gets his business up and running, a young fan of Simon's stories creates Casper and Nova, the Scarab is punished by having to work for Prismo, and both Simon and Fionna feel better about their places in their respective worlds.

Do Prismo and Simon represent the Adventure Time crew?

How meta can you get in interpreting "Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake"? On the most basic level, this is a show about a writer returning to a popular creation after leaving it for a while, then setting it free after making peace with its role in his life. Quite literally, this show is itself a return to a popular creation, and as with all art, it metaphorically belongs to everyone else once the artists are done with it.

"Adventure Time" creator Pendleton Ward has been compared to Simon. However, since Ward phased out his showrunning duties midway through the original series — his only involvement in "Fionna and Cake" is returning to voice Lumpy Space Princess and her human male counterpart Ellis P. — perhaps he's more represented by Prismo here, creating a world before giving it to someone else to manage. Of course, since showrunner Adam Muto has been actively pitching "Adventure Time" spinoffs, his return to his past success seems far less reluctant than Simon's.

Even without literal one-to-one personal connections, you can see how the story reflects on the creation of "Adventure Time." The "Flapjack" reference serves as a reminder of how Ward and many other cartoon creators got their start on that show, like how Prismo started doing others' bidding before making his own world. Rebecca Sugar's song in the second episode, "Part of the Madness," even references Cartoon Network Studios' old slogan.

What's the deal with the Scarab's canon obsession?

The Scarab's storyline is the aspect of "Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake" that feels most familiar within the increasingly large multiverse genre. An antagonist setting out to punish the heroes out of a belief that their very existence violates the order of the universe instantly recalls both the TVA in "Loki" and Miguel O'Hara in "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse." In all three cases, these antagonists serve as a commentary on fandom obsessions with "canon" and how counterproductive that can be.

Where the Scarab's story falls flatter than the other two is in the metatext. The Marvel Cinematic Universe had reason to actively challenge the legions of continuity-obsessed fans demanding adherence to a "sacred timeline." The "Spider-Verse" movies had even more righteous reason to depict Miles Morales overcoming those who thought he wasn't "supposed" to be Spider-Man, given how many people in real life said the same things about Miles for much more despicable reasons.

Fionna and Cake, in contrast, have been popular among "Adventure Time" fans for over a decade now, embraced as a satirical but loving celebration of fan fiction. Their introductory episode was the most watched of the series at the time. As such, it might make more sense to interpret the Scarab's conflict with Fionna and Cake, not as a specific commentary on this fandom, but about certain people's attitudes towards fan fiction more generally.

What's the show saying about escapism vs. reality?

Fionna starts the series being bored and frustrated with her life, then seeks to transform her life into a wild fantasy world, before eventually coming to find her "boring" home a place worth appreciating in its own right. When you put it like that, it looks like her character arc is another riff on Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz." Yet "Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake" isn't simply about a return to the "real world."

Cake certainly wouldn't end up the way she does if this was a story about embracing reality over fantasy. She lost huge parts of her identity when the world lost its magic, and she understandably refuses to give up those parts of herself again after recovering them. A magic cat in an otherwise ordinary world might stand out — try not to think about how her former boyfriend Lord Monochromicorn is now a human — but she's not alone, with cosmic beings and refugees from other supernatural worlds integrating into society together.

So it's not as if the narrative is explicitly rejecting escapism. Perhaps it's instead about rejecting the specific fantasy of undoing history to return to a more "magical" time. Traumatic events of the past can't be erased; you have to live in the world you have now, but you can still change things for the better and find new magic within that world.

Simon and Betty's love story is truly over - again

The most definitive "ending" in the original "Adventure Time" finale seemed to be to the story of Simon and Betty, with Betty merging with GOLB and effectively sacrificing herself to save Simon from the Ice Crown's curse. Despite that apparent finality, "Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake" shows that their tragic eras-spanning love story wasn't over in Simon's mind. The driving force of the plot is his desperate attempt to bring Betty back to him.

Simon's extreme pursuit of his lost love makes sense as the psychological basis for what would turn into princess-kidnapping villainy in his Ice King era. In flashbacks, we learn how this drive was both at the root of how his relationship with Betty started and arguably the root of their tragedy. If Simon let Betty go on her trip to the Outback, or (as he realizes when reliving the memory) even went with her as a more mutually supportive way of starting the romantic relationship he was seeking, then it's possible his own research wouldn't have led him to the Ice Crown in the first place.

For her part, GOLBetty expresses to Simon that she doesn't regret her experience with him and wouldn't take back any of their bad choices. Even so, it's time for her to leave him. That chapter is over, and Simon seems to truly understand that.

What Simon's mental health is looking like

Though he seems at peace about Betty, other things may take a lifetime for Simon to truly understand. In a therapy session with Finn's mom Minerva at the end of the season finale, Simon says, "I'm feeling like this whole experience with Fionna and Cake helped me realize that my life is worthwhile. I'm worried I'll forget that." Minerva responds that therapy will be "a cycle of learning and forgetting and relearning and forgetting again." Mental health journeys are never clean or straightforward.

One curious issue raised earlier in the season but mostly dropped towards the end is the way Simon almost seems to miss being Ice King, and the idea that him being in a wildly unstable state is also when he can imagine more exciting stories. There's enough of a plot-based explanation for why Fionna-world was more magical when Simon was Ice King — because he was literally magic — but in a show that's all metaphors for creativity, there's reason to wonder if the show is drawing a link between mental illness and certain forms of creativity. That Fionna ends up embracing the Simon-altered "ordinary" world ultimately makes this fraught issue a moot point, and however you read into all of this, the show firmly ends on the stance that it's not worth it to endanger oneself to create more exciting art.

What has the cast and crew of Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake said about the ending?

Though obviously not delving so much into spoilers, Adam Muto has talked a lot about the overall arc and message of "Fionna and Cake" in press interviews leading up to the final two episodes. Much of what he's said in these interviews comes in particular clarity after watching the finale. Speaking to The Washington Post, Muto said, "Hopefully it's enjoyable, but if you didn't like it, you can write your own ending, and that is equally valid." That's a fitting thing to say about a show about fan fiction and giving the masses the power to interpret creative works.

Muto's interview with The Hollywood Handle delved further into each individual character's story. He discussed the differences between Fionna and Cake's arcs, saying, "I think [Cake's] journey is to regain something she should have and that it isn't necessarily about 'there's no place like home.' It's like, 'No, you should actually be able to be what you want to be if there's a way to do it that doesn't mess up everyone's lives.' So, that's slightly different than what Fionna is going through." His thoughts on Simon are strongly reflected in the finale: "It's about him rediscovering his own value outside of being the Ice King and outside of being romantically. He has to find this new sort of existence that isn't tethered to either of those things."

Certain mysteries will remain unanswered

As much as "Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake" delves into the nooks and crannies of the franchise's continuity, there's a lot it decidedly does not explain. The biggest mystery is the ultimate fate of Jake the Dog. It's hinted that he's dead, as the only version of him we see in the new series is in one of the alternate worlds Prismo flips through on his TV. It's interesting to note, however, that this alternate Jake-accompanied Finn still has the tattoo of Jake many viewers of the "Obsidian" special assumed was a memorial tattoo, so maybe he's not actually dead in the main universe either?

Another thing that's still left vague is what's happening with Huntress Wizard. After Finn's heart was broken by both Princess Bubblegum and Flame Princess, Huntress Wizard became shippers' next big hope for Finn to have a successful relationship. Finn mentions her multiple times in "Fionna and Cake," but we never actually see her — though we do see her gender-swapped Fionna-world version Hunter, who has some sort of chemistry with Fionna.

Adam Muto talked a lot about wanting to leave certain things up to interpretation, particularly in regards to Jake, in his interview with Inverse, saying, "I don't want to just leave things open to shrug at them. But if it's not answered in a story or left to the imagination, it's probably not answered satisfyingly in like a comment or an article." He connected this to the show's message about fan fiction: "I think if you like the characters, you can do whatever you want with them and that is your version of it."

What the Season 1 finale could mean for the franchise

With such a thorough conclusion, a second season of "Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake" is probably unnecessary but not impossible. If the show does get a Season 2, it could take many different forms. Would it commit to the "coffee shop AU" vibes it's embraced for Fionna and friends, or do they work in another multiverse adventure?

Judging from interviews, Adam Muto seems a bit more focused on getting different "Adventure Time" spinoffs off the ground than specifically continuing this one. There are certainly lots of characters who could be explored. The far-future of Shermy and Beth feels particularly ripe for something that's fresh and less bogged down in continuity matters while still being recognizably "Adventure Time."

In the current climate, however, Muto is uncertain if any more spinoffs will get picked up. He told The Washington Post, "Even leading into this, we pitched so many ideas, because there was a period of real volatility at [Cartoon Network Studios] and Warner Bros. and Warner Bros. Discovery in general. So we pitched so many different ideas and were just hoping to get some kind of green light. There's grist for a lot, whether all those get made feels like it depends on what the appetite is and who's willing to bankroll it, because you don't have guaranteed buyers anymore."