Finn the Human: A Journey of Growth

Finn the Human needs little introduction as one of the main characters from the award winning, Cartoon Network series Adventure Time. He started out the series as a twelve-year-old hero, who lived with his best friend Jake the Dog, and had dreams of winning over the heart of the princess of the Candy Kingdom, Princess Bubblegum. While on this journey, Finn gets himself countless adventures while living in the colorful and strange land of Ooo. Although the show may appear childish and trivial on the surface, with its talking candy people and telepathic war elephants, the content is anything but childish. In a show consisting of a recurring cast with hundreds of colorful, strange, and outright weird characters, the writers of the show use Finn in particular as the focal point of growth and development within the show itself. That being the case, while analyzing where Finn started off in the first few seasons, and were he is at now in the midst of season 7 as the show heads for its foreseeable ending in 2018, it’s astounding to see the amount of growth and development of the young hero in what seems like such a short period of time.

In the beginning, Finn started off as an everyday hero in the world of Ooo. The first seasons showcases Finn as almost a “generic hero” with simple goals: adventuring with his bro Jake and saving princesses. But more specifically, to get the attention of Princess Bubblegum (PB) of the Candy Kingdom. During this time, the twelve-year-old adventurer wanted nothing more than to defeat the greatest villains he finds and get with the girl of his dreams, and aside from that, nothing else really mattered. This marks the initial dimension of Finn’s character. Equally, the first major turning points of his character comes in the midst of literally crying over a piece of PB’s hair. He’s “all gummed up inside” after finally coming to the realization the Princess Bubblegum is not interested in him after three seasons of trying to win her over.

At this point aside from conquering evil, the only other thing Finn wanted in his life is gone. He’s confronted with the fact that PB and him might be on two completely different levels regarding age, maturity, and overall desires. In the wake of this grief, a new character would enter Finn’s life; The Princess of the Flame Kingdom.

Wrapping up season 3 and jumping straight into season 4, the episodes, Incendium and Hot to the Touch, are the first encounters Finn has with Flame Princess (FP). Little does he know how this relationship will begin to change the young hero. In time, a romantic relationship begins to develop between Finn and FP and a major shift in Finn’s personality begins as he grows and develops new priorities. He’s the same kid, but one who is worried about how he smells, smoochin’, all while “AVOIDING TIER 15.” Viewers watch as Finn grows into a young man trying to impress his first girlfriend while beginning to deal with older, and more mature thoughts and emotions he never had before. With this new sense of maturity, thoughts and feelings, some would soon turn into a source of conflict for the blossoming hero.

Again, fast-forwarding a bit, the relationship between Finn and FP lasts until their break-up in season 5 with the episode, Frost and Fire. This is where Finn’s character once again begins to shift in a new and different way. Finn starts to have weird and emotional cosmic dreams about Flame Princess after seeing her go toe to toe with the Ice King, a laughable “villain” whose spent his time in the series causing trouble and kidnap princesses. In an attempt to recreate those emotions, he manipulates Flame Princess into fighting the Ice King a second time. This moment forever marks a radical change in Finn’s character. Finn has always done the “right thing” and puts others before him, but now, in this moment, he gave into his own temptations and desires and did what he wants to with no regard for FP’s feelings or thoughts. This resulted in a break-up where Finn did not not understand FP’s feelings and doesn’t fully understand why she is upset.

Jumping forward, the two part season 6 opener, Wake Up/Escape from the Citadel, is where Finn quickly hits another rough patch in life when his biological dad, Martin, comes into his life for the first time. When he finally meets Martin, his expectations of a great and heroic father are immediately crushed with Martin’s selfish and uncaring nature. This episode demonstrates how Martin has no thought or care for any other character except himself. In a way this behavior can be seen as a reflection of Finn and how he treated Flame Princess not too long ago. This experience becomes critical with Finn’s growth down the line. In any case, with all of this, it literally tears Finn apart by his arm, leaving behind a flower as a side effect of the cursed sword he then possessed, at the end of the episode.

At this moment he was treated exactly as he treated Flame Princess in a way, and although he may not realize it, he knows it hurts. Martin can be seen as Finn at his worst, or even deeper, what Finn could become. And so Finn begins season 6 lonely, devastated by the lack of love from his father, and armless. A traumatizing way to start a season.

Following this encounter, the episode, The Tower, portrays a distant, lonely, and hurt Finn that fans had not seen before. He was torn apart by his dad, and Finn’s flower arm, is a constant reminder. Finn is emotionally and physically lost a piece of himself. He had been through one of the roughest experiences in his entire life and with so much grief falling on him all at one time and he had to learn to deal with these emotions.
These conflicting emotions would come to a jarring climax in the episode Breezy. By this time, Finn’s emotional state is symbolized by his flower arm which is now beginning to die. He spends the episode smooching random princesses in attempt to fill his emotional void. Finn’s even addresses this when he says he “doesn’t feel anything…” At this point, he is lost and distant from the character he once was. This is a Finn who has truly hit rock bottom. This episode shows that Finn doesn’t know what he needs to make him feel better, but he knows he needs something.

At the end of Breezy, Finn’s arm is returned with the help of Breezy, a bee who was grateful for Finn helping her in the episode. In my opinion, this is how he gets his arm back. Breezy gave Finn the love he so desperately needed. In that selfless act he was able to feel again, he was able to feel- something. This is what restored his arm and “made him whole” in a way. Its that genuine love and care that gave the Finn push he needed to get out of that rut and begin to feel again. He can now begin to move forward. And so he does.


Throughout the rest of season 6 Finn again beings to change, but this time, he is ready to grow. In the episode, The Visitor, Finn resolves his emotional hang ups with his dad when he is driven to Martin, who had made his way back to Ooo. This time, Finn does not give his father the power he did before. This is a Finn whose grown from his past experiences and learned how to deal with them in a productive way. This encounter with Martin shows Finn that has to be the man that his father isn’t. He sees how Martin doesn’t care about anyone but himself, and he sees the path that leads someone down. Finn learns that he has to be the better person. And again, Finn moves forward.

With the end of season 6 and now in the midst of season 7, viewers see a Finn who has grown over the years from a generic hero to a young man with real emotions and thoughts. A real hero who has confronted his fears and doubts, and continues on past them to a better life. The season 6 finale, The Comet, show Finn’s new perspective he’s got on life. The all-powerful comet gives Finn the choice of leaving this reality full of both negative and positive experiences, but Finn denies this opportunity. In his own words,

Finn has grown for the better because he’s earned his title as of hero. He has not only seen what it means to be “the bad guy” but understands that life is not black and white. Its full of many grays and blues as well. He lives in a world where he has to live with himself and make the tough choices. By this point he’s learned that life is full of temptation, pain, and heartache, but he’s learned that its also full of friendship, happiness, and love. He is content with a life where he has to struggle for what he wants and he is willing to receive pain if it means he will also receive happiness. Not just for himself, but for everyone else as well. Season 7 now shows an older Finn. Take The episode, Hall of Egress, for example. It demonstrates this beautifully with its experience of multiple dimensions, and realities that take Finn on of the the most trippy and challenging journeys of his young life.

At this point Finn is about 17 years old. He is not the same 12 year old boy who was gawking over Princess Bubblegum. Finn is willing to adapt and learn in ways he never had before, with the example of Hall of Egress– he was open to see the world through a different perspective. Finn lives on as a symbol to his friends and the viewers: even if life gets you down, you keep moving forward and open yourself to new experiences, because you will always find the light within the darkness, and will grow stronger because of it. And that is what makes Finn a true hero everyone can look up to.

In the words of Finn’s best-friend Jake,

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