Adventure Time in a Post-Apocalyptic Future
The impending doom of the world is a much-discussed topic throughout the globe. Theories are widespread and attempt to solve the riddle as to what the cause of said doom shall be. During the Cold War, nuclear warfare was a greatly feared. “The threat of nuclear annihilation restrained the armed forces of the United States and the Soviet Union from directly confronting each other in battle” (Cold War Timeline). This was shown during the Cuban Missile Crisis when the Soviet Union lined up warheads on the Cuban coast (Cold War Timeline). Nuclear bombs have the potential to destroy any and everything in their wake, depending on their size. Were missiles to be launched, it was theorized that the world would be barren and lifeless. The world, as it was known, would be over.
There are no theories that show the world, after a nuclear war, being filled with candy kingdoms, vampires, talking animals, and ice and fire monsters. For obvious reasons, this would be ridiculous and simply impossible. One young man shows the world this theory as he takes his audience on his various adventures in The Land of Ooo.
The Land of Ooo is a landmass, or continent, that is home to various beings, ranging from talking candies in the Candy Kingdom to an Ice King in his land of penguins. The land is a mixture of democracy, dictatorship, and feudalism. For example, Princess Bubblegum rules over the Candy Kingdom and the inhabitants, who are all pieces of candy. There are villages that have no specified leader and kingdoms with Kings or Queens. Despite the many different governments, The Land of Ooo is a functioning place with many differing inhabitants (Adventure Time Wiki).
The target audience of the show, with it being aired on Cartoon Network, is children. Many teenagers and young adults find a fancy in the show, making the Easter eggs much more talked about. Easter eggs are hidden messages in shows and can be used for jokes between creators and producers or can put a new reality in play. They can also be used to relay a deeper meaning, giving the show an untold backstory. In Adventure Time, these Easter eggs do just that; bring forth a new reality. The creator of Adventure Time has stated that the show takes place in a post-apocalyptic world (Pendleton Ward). After this information was released, the users of the Internet started posting pictures, videos, and their thoughts on the matter.
The “Great Mushroom War” (Adventure Time Wiki) is rarely mentioned in the show. This is the cause of the status of the world, which is shown as having a huge chunk missing. Judging from the name of the war, it is safe to assume that the name comes from the clouds caused by nuclear bombs exploding. This would explain the various strange creatures in the show, but the history of the land is never fully explained. This leaves the Mushroom War totally up to the speculations of the audience.
It is unknown as to when The Great Mushroom War took place. Jake the Dog, the main character’s pet and adventuring buddy, mentions the war in “Video Makers.” Finn, the main character, and Jake are holding a movie night when an FBI warning shows before the movie begins playing. With the copyright law on the screen, Finn decides to stop movie night in fear of breaking a law. Jake explains that these movies were made before The Great Mushroom War and said law could not be broken. It is not stated when the war happened, but there are characters that know about it.
In the opening sequence, along with the theme song for the show, there are numerous Easter eggs. The frames move fast but pausing the video allows the viewer to get a closer look. There is a broken television, various warheads stuck in the ground, discarded VHS tapes, a zombie/mutated arm sticking out of a tree (waving at the audience), tires stuck halfway in the ground, and other odd objects strewn about. Ruined buildings are often shown in the background of the show and go unnoticed or unmentioned by the characters.
In “The Ocean of Fear”, there is an entire city underwater. In the city are vehicles that appear to be at an intersection, partially submerged, and a house with no roof showing two skeletons sitting on a couch. In “The Other Tarts” there is a whale skeleton and boat frames in a desert. This further leads onlookers to believe that the demise of the previous world was due to a quick instance. With a name like “The Great Mushroom War” it would be difficult to suspect anything less than a nuclear attack occurring. In other various episodes these Easter eggs are evident, but the scene moves along so quickly that they aren’t noticeable unless watching it a few times.
There are two characters that are immortal and have been alive preceding the Great Mushroom War. The Ice King, who is 1000+ years old, is one of these characters. Before the world as our adventurers know it, the Ice King lived a normal life as Simon Petrikov, had a fiancée, and was working to become an antiquarian (Adventure Time Wiki). In “Holly Jolly Secrets Part Two” a video from the past shows these facts about the Ice King and reveals how he came about his crown. In the video, it shows him in front of a window and, in the outside world, snow begins to suddenly fall and coat the land. The magical crown is what, most likely, saves him from the possible nuclear winter.
Marceline the Vampire Queen is another character in the show that has lived for 1000+ years. In “Memory of a Memory” a young Marceline is shown playing by a broken building with many other buildings around her, all fallen or ruined (Adventure Time Wiki). This is likely after the Great Mushroom War. In the same episode, Marceline’s father is shown in a diner with broken tables, chairs, and windows. War has left the land in ruin.
In “Marceline’s Closet”, Finn and Jake play a game called ‘Cloud Hunt’. This game is basically Hide and Seek, but after of counting an eerie song is sung by the seeker: “Over the mountain the ominous cloud, coming to cover the land in a shroud. Hide in a bushel, a basement, a cave, but when cloud comes a huntin’ no ones a’ saved” (Adventure Time). Finn sings this song in a merry manner, showing that he has no personal knowledge of the Mushroom War, and it can be assumed that he doesn’t know that the song has to do with a war. The lyrics point to the fact of a war happening and, much like ‘Ring Around the Rosie’ pertaining to the Black Plague (Turpin), this song was most likely a way for children to cope during the after affects of the Mushroom War. Much like Ring Around the Rosie, this song never died out and was passed down between generations and became an innocent child’s song.
From the Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world to Planet Nibiru colliding with Earth, the apocalypse has been a hot topic worldwide. Though scientists have disproven many of these theories (NASA) and have given reasons as to why they are false, people still cower in fear of the end of the world. Were the world to end, if it turned out like the Land of Ooo shown in Adventure Time most people would probably welcome it with open arms. Adventure Time depicts a post-apocalyptic world filled with candied people, evil Kings, and a single human adventuring and surviving this world. The Great Mushroom War did a number on the world but it created a new species of inhabitants. The nuclear bombs haven’t destroyed all life on Earth, as they were thought to, but brought forth new life and a rather interesting television program for viewers of all ages to enjoy.
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