Family movie night? There's an app for that
Download our new mobile app on iOS and Android.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Themes include compassion for people who seem different from you, courage needed to complete a heroic quest, how teamwork can accomplish tasks that are difficult to do solo. Additional themes include value of living authentically despite disapproval of others, and the power everyone has to change their fate.
Positive Role Models
Pep is a complex character; he means well, but a powerful anger keeps coming out from somewhere deep inside and causing chaos. As he battles with his tendencies, others are sometimes caught in the crossfire. Cadebra is a strong role model. She's confident and knows what she wants; when her uncle tells her others "only laugh because you're different, so stop being different" she says, "But where's the fun in that?" She's also a loyal friend to Pep, and is key to the success of his quest. Some unkind words are said about kids who aren't popular and "cool"; they're called "losers," "nerds," other unflattering words (but popular characters learn the worth of said "losers" by show's end).
Adventure Time's surreal world is full of all sorts of creatures, and they're voiced by a diverse set of actors. Women and people of color are cast in strong, central roles, and there's a respect for the contributions of each character.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Violence is a shade more intense than you might expect in a kids' animated show. Characters are killed, including one who swells up and seems to explode. We don't see the second death but understand that a skeleton belongs to a student who's gone missing. Pep throws things and bangs his head when he gets frustrated; in a sad moment, he tells ants swarming on him to "lick me out of existence." A large demon appears several times, causing titanic damage, hurling fire, and generally flinging around smaller characters.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
No cursing but some substitute words ("dang," "flipping") as well as insulting language, like when a student is called "trash," "loser," and "nerd."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Adventure Time: Distant Lands - Wizard City is the final special in the Distant Lands series, and it concerns a character who begins attending a wizarding school yet struggles with past secrets and his inner inclinations. Messages are thoughtful: the value of a loyal friend, why it's important to live an authentic life despite disapproval of others, one's own power to change the future. Violence is a bit more intense than one might assume from the colorful characters. A large demon appears repeatedly to throw fire and create huge winds and destruction; two characters are killed (we see the death of one as he takes poison and explodes; we only see the skeleton of another but it's a student, which is extra disturbing). One character throws things and bangs his head on a table when he's upset and tells ants to "lick me out of existence" when he's in despair. There's no cursing, but there are some iffy substitutes ("flipping," "dang") as well as insulting language including "jerks," "nerd," "loser," and "trash." Characters are colorful and come in all sorts of imaginative forms; they're also voiced by a cast diverse in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity. Main character Pep is a flawed hero who makes many mistakes (but also learns from them); his buddy Cadebra, who's confident in her own quirkiness, is a better role model.
Is It Any Good?
It's surreal, whimsical, colorful, and charming like all Adventure Time narratives, but the emotional payoff is so slight that it's curious that the beloved series chose to sign off like this. With its themes of letting go and moving on, as well as a focus on main characters Jake and Finn, Together Again seems the more obvious choice to close out the series, or even Obsidian with its messages about authenticity and acceptance, but Pep's story is smaller in scope and breadth, something of a hero's quest/coming-of-age mashup that sees a well-meaning character struggling with what seems like his inevitable monstrous fate.
The story does make a decent metaphorical hook for Adventure Time's longtime fans who, if they were in Cartoon Network's target age group during the show's heyday, are now somewhere in their late teens or '20s, a time when it's easy to relate to characters struggling to find their identity and break away from others' expectations. It feels natural, too, to warm to a story in which a loyal friend is the crucial element needed to complete a dangerous mission. And yet, the smallness of Wizard City's stakes seems ironically un-magical in a story all about magic; the closing out of a series many viewers literally grew up with seems to demand more of a dramatic coda, the one viewers were handed in Together Again, in fact. No matter. Wizard City is still delightful and fun, and goes down as easy as a milkshake; fans will watch, as they should. But maybe watch Together Again after you do, to bring the whole series to an emotionally satisfying conclusion.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.