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Pen Ward Quit ‘Adventure Time’ Because It Was Driving Him Nuts


There’s a startling revelation in a new Rolling Stone piece about Cartoon Network’s hit series Adventure Time: Pendleton Ward hasn’t been running the show he created since sometime during season 5. “I quit because it was driving me nuts,” he told the magazine. He further explained:

“Dealing with people every day wears on you. To spend that extra energy and time you don’t have, to make something that’s worth making, to make it awesome, wears you out. It’s a beast of a show. And the more popular it gets, the more the ancillary things – like the merchandise and games and everything – keep getting bigger. For me, having quality of life outweighed the need to control this project and make it great all the time.”

Ward’s departure has been a bit of an open secret, especially since the new showrunner, Ward’s CalArts classmate Adam Muto, has been the public face of the show at conventions and festivals for the past year. But this article is the first official confirmation of the change.

Will Ward ever create another show? “No, never. That sounds like a nightmare!” he says.

According to the article, Ward still writes and storyboards on the show, but prefers to stay at home eating pizza, working on his own ideas, and playing videogames with the lights off and curtains closed. “That’s the root of what I like doing. Make stuff on my own and fall asleep.” Ward says that he’d also like to write an Adventure Time movie and make his own videogame, the latter of which is already happening.

  • otterhead

    I love that Pen has not only never stopped being a D&D and comics loving geek, the show he created is a celebration of those things. And I love that he left on his own terms to stay involved in a way that’s best for him.

    “It’s nice to just be sleepy and make stuff.” Yes, it is, Pen.

  • Toonio

    Only A sane person would quit from the madhouses studios have become.

  • Chris Webb

    Sounds reasonable to me. More power to him.

  • DMacB

    Also, here’s hoping we aren’t left hanging on Bravest Warriors.

  • Casey Billadeau

    This is a shame, as I enjoyed his work on AT, but I enjoy him even more doing the misc. stuff he does at Frederator for YouTube.

  • hannah

    I kind of figured when LSP’s appearances started dropping off, haha. If he does more personal work, I do hope he continues to put it online!

  • Sim x

    Certainly there are quite a few people who would love to see Pen expand on Adventure Time, and then others who may prefer him to channel more artistic experimentation. Considering the mellow nature of his work in the likes of ‘Little Pink Best Buds’ and ‘Bueno the Bear’, I’d remain relaxed that whatever he touches will be as simple and as passive as his work has come to reflect.

  • Adventure Time

    I hope Adventure Time ends while it is still a good show. I’d rather it didn’t overstay it’s welcome.

    • Josh Moore

      I have a weird feeling CN will suffer from Nickelodeon syndrome if you know what I mean. I would hate to see that on what is probably the best kids channel on basic cable now.

  • Gene Fowler

    I’m with him.

  • William Bradford

    When the creator is tired of a show, that’s probably a hint the show needs to wrap itself up. Haha I think from a creators standpoint, the idea show would be one that was reasonably popular, but not so big that the company forces it to go on and on well after the artists have grown weary and want to move on. Never certain how big, say, Fosters Home For Imaginary Friend was: but Mckracken seemed to manage to put a “final epsisode” on it, and wrap it up nicely.

  • Lydiagydia

    “Ward still writes and storyboards on the show.”
    Sounds like Pen doesn’t know how to properly quit a job.

  • megadrivesonic

    Ok then, make that movie Ward, we’d all like to see a 2d animated feature in theatres again so why not adventure time.

    • but they’re gonna make it CG-animated or live action LOL jk

      • Barrett

        A 3D CG Adventure time would be the biggest turd in the history of TV-to-Feature animation adaptations. Half the charm of that show is the “look.”

        • Dusty Ayres

          And you know this, how? Please enlighten the rest of us.

          • ominousorb

            How is anything known?

          • Dusty Ayres

            How do you all know this would be complete suckage if the show was CGI?

  • Hey Now

    This actually makes me respect Pen even more. The US TV animation industry is a shitshow, kids. And it doesn’t get better even if you’re currently the biggest success story in the biz. Kudos to him for prioritizing quality of life.

    • GenoRodriguez

      Shitshow? Would you care to explain? I know that it’s just your opinion but I have no doubt that there is some truth to it, and I’d like to know considering the fact that I aspire to work in the animation industry in the future.

  • Googamp32

    Huh. I thought he’d already have to be nuts to make “Adventure Time” in the first place.

  • SarahJesness

    That’s a shame, but it’s not like he can do it forever and I wish him the best. The other people working on the show are plenty talented too so I’m sure it will stay good. I just hope the network doesn’t beat it into the ground like has happened with so many popular shows.

  • Tracy Reynolds

    Introverts, unite! =D

  • Stray Dog

    “Will Ward ever create another show? “No, never. That sounds like a nightmare!” he says.” I’m sure that will change once Adventure Time eventually ends.

  • Paul

    I’ll do his job. I have time to spare. Hey CARTOON NETWORK, I am an experienced animation designer. Call me today.

    • akira

      Please use your spare time to do the job that he did to make a great short and i’m sure you can get work! you don’t need anyone to call you. just make something like he did and is continuing to do

  • If they’re ever gonna end the show, I hope they end it with an epic movie.

  • Barrett

    Sounds like a fabulous outcome for a creator; Put your heart, soul, and sweat into something you can be proud of, and after a few years of critical acclaim, popular success and financial success, wind back your involvement 90% and spend the rest of the time chillaxin’ at home with Netflix and an Xbox. Invest your earnings conservatively and live similarly, and never have to ‘work’ again. I’d give up a non-vital organ to have the same outcome in my life.

    • kkakuoku

      Can a comment make a person’s heart warm up? Because this one did.

  • Barrett

    That’s the way to do it; no artist wants to completely swear off drawing, but when you have to run a hydra in a corporate structure, your life becomes something unrecognizable. He probably is doing more actual drawing for the show NOW than he has since the first could of seasons! This way he gets to stay involved, but can probably make his own hours on a day-to-day basis and spend the rest of his time doing whatever the hell he feels like. That “darkened room with pizza and videogames” plan sounds pretty sweet to me!

  • Josh Moore

    I agree. They could have picked a better person for the job.

  • Speaking of Craig McCracken, I wonder if Disney would have greenlit Wander Over Yonder if Cartoon Network let Finn and Jake be nomads.

    • What do you mean? Wander Over Yonder was greenlit a while ago and has been airing its first season on Disney Channel and Disney XD.

      • You don’t think people would have cared if the premises were more similar than they already are? Both shows are already about a pair of trippy freewheeling adventurers.

        • I’m not sure what you mean. Could you explain?

          • I’m sorry, but it feels like I explained it the best I can.

  • Mowalski

    Good for him. I’ve only watched Adventure Time on occasion, but it’s good to see that Ward knows how to enjoy the simpler things in life. This tends to happen with cartoons that become immensely popular: the creator takes a backseat to pursue other goals and interests.

  • DangerMaus

    Must be nice to be in a financial position where you can elect to “stay at home, eat pizza, play video games and make stuff”. Wish I had a membership in that exclusive club.

  • GenoRodriguez

    I meant to say that I aspire to work in the TV animation industry. But I am aware of that.

  • Pen Ward doesn’t seem to be complaining here. He just knows that he isn’t particularly good at and doesn’t enjoy the day-to-day non-creative side of running a show. (Eg. How many Adventure Time backpack designs should we make this month?)

  • Valerie Cronin

    Sounds like he had too many responsibilities and not enough pay or time off. Is there no good job out there?

  • will

    but will there be anymore more new episodes?

  • TrashBoat_DragonHole

    Six seasons and a movie! Keep doing you, PenPen; you’re beautiful!

  • kkakuoku

    In all honesty, I never latched on to AT in the slightest (and I certainly don’t latch onto the air of snobbery all over the internet that implies that it is the vanguard of what shows on CN “should” be), but I have to commend Pen for his decision, as long as what he does now will guarantee him joy.

  • Dusty Ayres

    ‘The avalanche has already started; it is too late for the pebbles to argue.’-Kosh Naranek

    Is there any reason why everybody’s such a fracking Luddite nowadays?

    • bigbadballoon

      I wonder how long you desperately waited to use “Luddite”… Nice Naranek quote tho.

  • Spooderman

    man knows what he wants “retirement”