Adventure Time may look like just another kids’ animated series on Cartoon Network, but anyone who has actually watched a few episodes knows its appeal goes so much deeper. One of the great things about the show is that, while most episodes tell their own self-contained story and can be watched out of sequence, there is actually a surprisingly deep lore to the show’s world that rewards dedicated viewing. Like any long-running TV show, that lore has largely been built around the writers throwing a bunch of ideas around and seeing what sticks, and one of the most delightful results of this approach is the sheer number of memorable side characters the show has introduced. Main characters Finn and Jake may take center stage, but most of the big laughs and absolutely wacky creativity Adventure Time is known for has come from various minor characters over the course of the show’s six seasons and counting.
10. Ricardio the Heart Guy
Ricardio made his debut in the appropriately titled 1st season episode, “Ricardio the Heart Guy”. He is the literal heart of villain the Ice King, and has many of the same personality traits as a result. The great thing about Ricardio and what makes him so memorable is that he is a darker version of the Ice King: Ice King’s main motivation in life is to kidnap and marry a princess, while Ricardio wants to rip out and marry a princess’s heart, as he tries to do with Princess Bubblegum. Ricardio represents the darkly disturbing undercurrents of Adventure Time, which helps him stand out among the many minor villains the show has introduced over the years. He’s also voiced by George Takei, which is cool enough on its own to make him a top 10 character.
9. Choose Goose
Towing the line between annoying and hilarious is Choose Goose, a Candy Kingdom minstrel known for speaking in terrible rhymes and being a source of rare items for Finn and Jake that generally turn out to be largely useless. His hilariously bad rhymes alone make him a memorable character, but his overall pathetic appearance and lisp-laden speech elevates him to classic status. The way his limbs seem to barely support him, his constantly crossed eyes, or his striking feather cap all add up to one of the most inherently useless (and awesome) Adventure Time characters.
Starchy is the delightful mustached gravedigger of the Candy Kingdom. A firm believer in the paranormal, Starchy is frequently shown to be a cowardly individual, made all the more charming by his tendency to refer to himself in the 3rd person. He’s also shown to be a hip guy, as he critiques a rap battle in “Billy’s Bucket List”. More of a background character than anything, Starchy doesn’t appear quite enough on this show, which only enhances his greatness (helped along nicely by his amazing mustache).
7. Party God
There may be no better summation of Adventure Time’s commitment to absurdist, random humor than the Party God. A floating, talking wolf’s head with a sideways baseball cap (to signify his commitment to partying, of course), the Party God literally parties all the time. Leave it to Adventure Time to introduce a God who is soley devoted to the act of partying. His abilities consist of being able to imbue anyone with the energy of “1000 partying demons”, and the ability to sense where any party is at a given time. He can also grant one wish to anyone who gains his partying favor, as Jake does in “Power Animal”. Of course, like any real devoted partier, Party God’s commitment to partying makes him neglect other parts of his life, like his girlfriend the Island Lady. A partying wolf God with relationship woes? Party God’s the real deal.
The Ice King’s most trusted servant, Gunter is small penguin who only communicates through quacks. As a result, most of Gunter’s personality is delivered through his mannerisms and actions, which are varied enough to show that Gunter is a more complex penguin than he appears. Little quirks like his tendecy to break things and not care about it or his ability to play the keyboard make Gunter one of the most endearing creatures on the show, even if he works for the villainous Ice King.
5. The Lich
He’s the greatest foe Finn and Jake have faced, had a multi-episode arc devoted just to his rise to power, and after almost destroying the land of Ooo, he was turned into a baby. If that’s not reason enough to consider the Lich one of the best Adventure Time side characters…how about the fact that he’s voiced by Ron Perlman? Yeah, he’s definitely top 10 material.
4. Flame Princess
Flame Princess wasn’t introduced until late in the 3rd season, but she has quickly become one of Adventure Time’s most fully-realized side characters. As her name implies, Flame Princess has fire powers, and she’s one of the most powerful beings in the world of Ooo. Fittingly, she also has a fiery (pun intended) personality, and constantly fights to keep her anger under control. Later on, she becomes romantically involved with Finn and is overall just an awesome character, as her epic showdown with the Ice King proves.
3. Peppermint Butler
Peppermint Butler, with this squaky voice and adorable bow tie, has the appearance of a kind-hearted, devoted servant of the Candy Kingdom. Of course, appearances are generally extremely deceiving on Adventure Time. As revealed in “Death in Bloom”, the mild-mannered butler has a hidden dark past: he’s friends with Death, and has connections to the Land of the Dead. Cute and darkly disturbing, Peppermint Butler represents one of the best unexpected character arcs in Adventure Time history.
2. Earl of Lemongrab
A botched experiment of Princess Bubblegum, the overly serious and annoying Lemongrab is one of the most obnoxiously hilarious characters on Adventure Time. Seemingly unable to communicate in anything less than a high-pitched scream, Lemongrab is a continual nuisense to the heroes of the show, but one that is always a welcome sight thanks to the vocal talents of Justin Roiland, who may have created one of the most annoyingly memorable character voices ever with Lemongrab.
1. Magic Man
Magic Man is the best side character on Adventure Time because he is used perfectly: he shows up just enough to make a lasting impression, but not enough to overstay his welcome. Magic Man is simply one of the most disturbing, yet hilarious creations in Adventure Time history. For reference: he’s introduced inexplicably turning a bird inside out. He exists merely to be the biggest jerk possible and completely commits to this mandate by being a constant source of frustration for Finn and Jake. It’s later revealed that he is a Martian who was banished to Earth because he was such a jerk. Fortunately, Magic Man is the kind of jerk you love to hate, and that makes him the best side character in Adventure Time history.