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Adventure Time finale wraps Marceline and Bubblegum’s story perfectly

Two characters get the ending they deserve, and viewers couldn’t be happier

Princess Bubblegum and Marceline in a scene from Adventure Time Cartoon Network

A lot rode on the final episode of Adventure Time, a cartoon whose characters grew and changed alongside us over nearly a decade of stories. Some of our heroes evolved more than others — Finn ended up with a prosthetic arm, for starters — and not all of them got clear-cut conclusions.

But one of the most emotional journeys throughout the show got the happy ending they always deserved — one that felt at once unexpected and unsurprising. Whatever your feelings may be on the hourlong series capper, fans are finding it hard to argue with at least one storyline’s conclusion.

[Warning: Spoilers for the Adventure Time series finale follow. Turn around and don’t come back until you’ve watched the episode, please and thank you.]

In an intense moment during the cartoon’s final battle, Marceline the Vampire Queen and Princess Bubblegum of Ooo found time to confront each other. With a vulnerable exchange and a hug, the women landed where many fans always hoped they would: They kissed, their love for each other finally cemented.

Romance is energizing, especially during the anxiety of wartime. Yet Marceline and Bubblegum’s romance extended beyond the threat against the kingdom. Over 10 seasons, Marceline the Vampire Queen and Princess Bubblegum of Ooo grew from prickly women with no patience for relationships into a pair that admitted a need for balance. It was a realization intertwined, and its true beginnings began off-screen; Marceline and Bubblegum, as fans slowly picked up on, were more than just old friends who’d parted ways. They were former best friends, and their feelings for each other may have been stronger than they could admit.

Adventure Time’s Princess Bubblegum wearing a shirt that once belonged to Marceline.
Things started getting real once Princess Bubblegum revealed she still owned Marceline’s old shirt, from back in the good ol’ days.
Image: Warner Bros. Television

Their connection — romantic connection — became less obscure as time wore on, and fans pined for a legitimate “Bubbleline” romance. But Adventure Time started several years before other cartoons openly embraced non-heterosexual partnerships. In The Legend of Korra’s final episode, for example, Korra and her friend Asami come close to sharing a kiss. But even in 2014, actual physical affection between two women seemed taboo for kids’ TV; Korra and Asami only held hands, and let’s not even talk about how Nickelodeon shunted this beautiful series off to its web-only app.

As Adventure Time gained popularity, other cartoon creators seemed to test the conservative boundaries of sexual orientation. Even hints at a relationship between Marceline and Bubblegum — like in the episode “Varmints,” which has Marceline and PB on their own mission that gives them plenty of time to talk about their old relationship — set the groundwork for next steps. take Disney Channel’s Star vs. the Forces of Evil, which shows two male background characters kissing; and Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe, which celebrated a wedding between two central, female-coded characters earlier this year. And there was a kiss and everything!

As executive producer Adam Muto told us right before the finale, perhaps it’s reductive to talk about diverse sexual orientations as if they’re new and noteworthy. They’re a part of the reality we all live in, after all. It just feels hard to argue against that feeling of elation at seeing two of your favorite women kiss on a kids’ cartoon. Think of all the kids who will grow up with every type of pairing normalized; us former kids should certainly wish we had the chance to do so.

Marceline and Bubblegum’s road to romance has scratched that representational itch for years now. Less and less on the sly, too. Theirs is the finale they deserved — and that viewers deserved too.

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