No one expected a kid’s cartoon with a talking dog to have a frank examination of the effect detoeriating mental health can have on you and your loved ones. Leave it to Adventure Time to mine the inherent sadness and loneliness of madness, exemplified by the deteriorating mental condition of Ice King.
It Was The Crown
During the events of Holly Jolly Secrets, Finn and Jake are watching a series of video diaries left behind by the Ice King when they discover one from before he was Ice King, a sweet archaeologist named Simon Petrikov. In the modern day, he got the crown and it's power. But the longer he has it, the less of Simon remains.
This was a good, kind hearted man who turned his efforts to protecting a little girl during the end of the world, just because he could. That little girl was, of course, Marceline. Episodes like Simon and Marcy show Simon as the perfect guardian to the young girl, becoming one of the few truly good parental figures in the whole series. But by using the crown, his mind was overshadowed and lost.
It shades all of his past pathetic moments with a new layer of depth and brings a bitter sweet feeling to his future failings. With this information, we see Ice King less as a bumbling villain and more as the misguided old man. Stories featuring the character after this revelation focus less on his attempts to kidnap people and more on the loneliness and confusion that eat away at what’s left of him.
It took a good soul and left an easily confused and accidentally dangerous old man. The parallels to any number of mental disorders, like Alzheimer’s or Bi-Polar Disorder, is palpable. He can't control the things going through his head, and lashes out in pain. As Novelist Lev Grossman told NPR about the episode I Remember You, “It's very affecting. My dad has been going through having Alzheimer's, and he's forgotten so much about who he used to be. And I look at him and think this cartoon is about my father dying."