Adventure Time is one of the most expansive fantasy series in modern history, centering around a kind but unassuming boy growing into a noble young man, while also featuring magic talking dogs, immortal vampire queens and centuries-long political conflicts.
Finn's exploration and expansion forms the emotional core of Adventure Time, even as the focus shifts onto the other characters in the Land of Ooo, the story's setting. But who is Finn, really? This character retrospective takes a look back at the boy hero, and how he became one of the premiere protagonists of modern animation and pop culture.
Finn The Baby
Finn was born on Hub Island, one of the last human settlements on the planet. He was the son of noted conman Martin and a leading scientist of the island named Minerva. Although Martin had tried to go clean for the sake of his new family, a woman he'd cheated in the past returned to attack him. Escaping with the infant Finn, Martin went to sea but was accidentally targeted by the giant robotic Guardians of the human islands, the two were separated.
Finn eventually washed up on the shores of Ooo, the magical realm growing out of the ruins of human society that was wiped out thousands of years before during the Great Mushroom War (a thinly-veiled allusion to nuclear war). He was taken in by Joshua and Margaret, a pair of talking dog detectives/monster hunters who also had two other sons, Jake and Jermaine. Finn was raised as a member of the family, forming a particularly strong bond with the happy-go-lucky Jake.
Finn The Adventurer
Following the passing of his adopted parents, the then 11 year old Finn moved away from the family home with Jake (while Jermaine remained behind to keep an eye on the magical forces trapped in the building) to find their own place in the world. Following in their parent's footsteps, Finn and Jake became adventurers, affiliated with the forces of good.
The first few seasons of Adventure Time center around this time period of Finn's life, as he became one of the most recognizable heroes in Ooo. He befriended many of the various princesses that ruled over various parts of the land, particularly the brilliant Princess Bubblegum. Finn even developed a bit of a crush on her, which heralded his growth into adolescence.
Finn The Teen
One of the most compelling aspects of Adventure Time was how the characters, specifically Finn, aged with each season. By the time Season 3 ended, Finn was turning 14 and becoming a more conflicted character. After it became obvious that Princess Bubblegum wasn't romantically interested in him, Finn began seeing Phoebe, the Flame Princess. His sense of good helped turn her in-universe alignment from evil to chaotic neutral, and was attracted to her more warrior-like tendencies. However, this led him to staging fights and lying to her, which caused her to end their relationship. She eventually returned to her kingdom and overthrew her despotic father.
Finn also faced an unexpected challenge in the return of his father, Martin. Rescuing him from a cosmic prison, Finn was disheartened to learn Martin was a common criminal. Having re-embraced his conman ways, Martin eventually left Finn on the doomed prison, inadvertently costing Finn one of his arms. Finn grew a bit darker as a result, although he retained his sense of nobility. The two briefly reunited when Finn helped save Ooo from the Catalyst Comet, a supernatural force that would have forever changed Ooo. Martin went with the Comet and entered a new stage of conscious, and Finn said goodbye with a mix of disappointment and acceptance.
Finn The Hero
When Finn returned to Ooo, he refocused on being the hero that the world needed. He reestablished a friendship with Flame Princess, and even moved on. He eventually began dating Huntress Wizard, a cool and confident forest elemental. He also had to contend with a copy of himself being formed out of a time paradox and a cursed sentient blade made of grass (it's a long story) called Fern. Although the two tried to work together, Fern grew jealous of Finn and tried to kill him, forcing a battle between the two. Finn accidentally activated the robotic arm given to him by Princess Bubblegum, "mulching" Fern to pieces.
The final few seasons of Adventure Time saw Finn help Marceline stop the return of the fabled Vampire King and discover the human islands and reunite with (at least the digital copy of) his birth mother. He also helped restore Ooo after it was consumed by Elemental powers and finally helped bring down the demonic Lich. He even helped save all of creation from the entity known as Gob.
The series ended with Finn happy and alive with his friends, bidding hello to a ship of humans coming to reestablish connection with Ooo.