Reasons Why Adventure Time’s Gender-Bents Are Awesome

Matt Hepworth

It’s hard not to love Adventure Time, the series really appeals to fans of all ages with it’s humor, characters, and story.  On September 5th, 2011, fans were surprised by a completely new concept in the series: Gender-bent episodes.   By Gender-bent, they literally took every character in the series and swapped their genders.  So Finn the Human became Fionna the Human, Jake the Dog became Cake the Cat, and so on.   The first episode, Fiona and Cake, became such a hit they decided to do a second one, Bad Little Boy. And for good reason, as these episodes are some of Adventure Time’s best. But why do these episodes work so well?

Reason #1: The Voice Acting

So even in the normal episodes, Adventure Time has some great guest voice actors (to name a few, Mark Hamill, George Takei), but let’s just take a moment to look at the gender-bent cast.  As Fiona we have Madeline Martin.  She isn’t known for much of her voice work, but she creates the perfect tomboy character, which is almost a perfect portryal of Finn himself.  Finn takes pride in how tough he is, so it only makes sense to make his alternate self similar.

With Cake, a lovely woman named Roz Ryan does the voice acting.  Her maternal sounding voice is perfect for Cake, and a lot of you might know her (well at least I did) as Bubbie, the Whale from Misadventures of Flapjack.  Jake’s character is like a brother to Finn, thus it makes sense to keep her character type similar.

Adventure Time voice actors at ComicCon

As Prince Bubblegum, we have Neil Patrick Harris.  I’ll repeat that and let it sink in, Neil, Patrick, Harris. And doesn’t it seem ironic (but in the best way) that every single character he portrays is the biggest womanizer to ever live.  He’s known mainly for his roles on How I Met Your Mother as Barney, Dr. Horrible, Doogie Howser, M.D, as Doogie Howser, or as “himself” in Harold and Kumar. The Adventure Time character Princess Bubblegum is a strong leader, an independent princess who can take care of herself, so it’s interesting to see her being almost completely reveresed personality wise as Prince Bubblegum.

Ice Queen gives us Grey Delise. This woman’s been the definition of  dark/evil all throughout our childhood.  Let’s look at some of her roles shall we?  Mandy from Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, Vicky from The Fairly Odd Parents, Azula from Avatar the Last Airbender.  She is the perfect villain, who much like her normal counterpart Ice-king seems like a pretty much a pyschopath (barring future character development) who only desires to capture princes (much like IK capturing princesses).

For Marshall Lee we have Donald Glover. Aka Childish Gambino.  Marcelline is a great singer, and her character is loved for her songs.  Her male counterpart retains this aspect as well.  He’s known as Troy Barnes in The Community.  He managed to retain the bad-boy characterization that Marcelline portrays oh so well.

(Author’s note:  For flame prince, can we please get Dante Basco?)

Reason #2:  It’s not your cliché genderbend.

Let’s be honest here, when you think of the phrase genderbent episode, what do you expect?  Everyone will be miserable, all the men turned women are weak, and vice versa.  Yeah this isn’t the case here.  While it’s interesting how they capitolize on the fact that Fiona is most definitely a girl with some very girly emotions, she’s still just as tough as Finn, and definitely kicks as much butt as he does.

Fiona kicking serious butt!!

In general, Adventure Time challenges and fights gender/general sterotyping a lot, (Princesses not being the damsel in distress and fighting for themselves, male characters wanting to be princesses, potential lesbian couples, dealing with mental ilnesses, and a lot more if you look into it).  Now that all the genders are swapped, personally it’s interesting to see that they have the female being the one who saves the day, as opposed to using the trope of a male save the one in distress.  It’s both great and refreshing to see these tropes being broken and having them spoken out against.

Reason #3:  Hello potential future stories?

These episodes have been a hit amongst fans.  It brought back much loved characters, and it’s great when they switch things up again like this.  And [SPOILERS], at the end of the episode the Ice King says something interesting.

"Some day I'll find you."

This leads potential to tie-in to the main story, which is rather hard as Adventure Time has almost no story, but it’s loaded with character development. In the past we’ve seen lots of minor hints lead into something big episode-wise, so it’s likely we could see it again.

With the crazyness that is Adventure Time, well who knows anything is possible

The season 5 finale is just around the corner, so who knows what will be in stock for us soon, here’s to hoping!


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