BMO is easily one of my favorite characters from Adventure Time. The little robot has all the capabilities of a smartphone (and more, as we know it can play VHS tapes), an incredible imagination, a sometimes concerningly intense commitment to its passions, and it shares my love for classic genre cinema.
With BMO’s special episode of Adventure Time: Distant Lands already released on HBO Max in the US and hopefully to be released soon in the UK, I wanted to take a look back at some of the best BMO episodes in the original Adventure Time series. This list will include both BMO-specific episodes and some which aren’t, but still include some of my favorite BMO moments that helped it carve out a place in my heart.
10. Angel Face (s7, e17)
BMO’s western outing introduces us to a bit of a mean streak in our tiny robot cowboy, or at least an extreme commitment to playing through its scenarios as seriously as possible.
BMO begins the episode making special sentient sandwiches to bribe Jake into acting as a horse for the LARP, and we later learn that BMO has similarly bribed Finn with special sentient sandwiches and Neptr with a single Finn cake to take part as well. One of the greatest lines BMO has in the series comes from this episode when Jake complains that BMO’s spurs hurt his horse’s back and BMO replies in a monotone: “horses do not talk.”
The episode takes a turn when disgraced assassin Me-Mow mistakes the wanted posters BMO created for its LARP for real wanted posters and actually attacks Finn while he plays as Jack Rabbit Johnson. But BMO is up to the task and never breaks character, using – to Jake’s alarm – a real gun to free Finn from Me-Mow’s capture and bring Me-Mow to justice.
9. Shh! (S5, E20)
Shh! begins with Finn and Jake deciding to see who can go longer without talking and only using a limited number of pre-prepared signs to communicate. BMO enters the episode after the wager has begun. It excitedly announces that it’s invited some bikini babes over to dance to its favorite song. When Finn and Jake don’t say anything in response, it asks why they aren’t talking and gets “the juice?” and “me too” signs as a response. BMO assumes something has taken over Finn and Jake’s bodies and frightenedly jumps into the wall, then begins to adorably rock itself while listening to the song.
Hijinks ensue as Finn and Jake attempt to convince BMO that they are indeed the real Finn and Jake and that BMO shouldn’t be scared. Finally they get desperate and start to hack at the wall with axes leading to a surprising reference to The Shining. When an axe cut creates a rift in the wood so large the roof falls in, along with all the bikini babes who had flown onto the roof for reasons that remain a mystery, BMO yells to its invited guests that these aren’t the real Finn and Jake and to “get them!” The bikini babes immediately begin attacking Finn and Jake who remain silent through a good amount of pain, but finally Jake cries “uncle” and Finn begins to explain that their wager all began that morning when… but BMO plainly says “oh I don’t care” before excitedly declaring “let’s just party!”
8. Orb (S9, E1)
A classic “we’re all in each others’ dreams” episode, Orb gives us a view into BMO’s subconscious. Unsurprisingly, BMO is a director, adorned with a beret and scarf, holding a bag of popcorn. BMO is invited into a theater to watch a show in which CMOs play Finn and Jake and talk about how they are boring without BMO around, leading BMO to muse “I love art.”
As the episode goes on, it gets darker as the dreams turn into nightmares and BMO, Finn, and Jake are all pulled into the same dreamspace. When the characters realize that they’re inhabiting the same dream, BMO remarks “the unconscious is so complicated,” yes it is, little robot, yes it is.
7. Five Short Graybles (S4, E2)
The first of the Five Short Graybles episodes in Adventure Time is also the first time that the audience and BMO meet Football – better known as ‘BMO’s reflection in the bathroom mirror’.
In the first of five short stories in the episode, Finn and Jake leave the treehouse for groceries, allowing BMO to do whatever it pleases. Right after they leave, BMO runs up to the bathroom, pulls up a stool, hops on so that it can see itself in the mirror, and begins a friendly conversation with its new friend Football.
While the episode serves as an introduction to Football and BMO’s powerful imagination, it’s what happens after the introductions that earns the episode its place on this list. Football asks BMO if it’s a robot, BMO denies being a robot and declares “I’m a little living boy,” Football gasps and asks BMO to “teach me about being alive.” BMO obliges by rubbing a dry toothbrush on its face screen, lightly hitting itself in the face screen with a bar of soap, and, most surprisingly, taking a glass of water, sitting on the toilet and pouring the water in the bowl while letting Football know that it’s “peeeeeeee-ing”.
6. President Porpoise is Missing (s7, e8)
When President Porpoise goes missing, BMO is given the job of distracting the Ice King so that he cannot interfere with Finn and Jake’s real recovery mission. Another character might be hurt by this, or not up to the task, but BMO immediately creates a scenario for Ice King to become immersed in. BMO simply tells Ice King “we are in a submarine” and begins to role play as captain with Ice King taking the role of a lieutenant. Their adventure takes them through the trials of running out of oxygen and being attacked by enemy submarines, but captain BMO assures us “I bring my boys home.” At one point we also get to see the imaginary sub through BMO’s eyes and it is a wonderful glimpse into the little robot’s colorful world.
5. Football (S7, E5)
Football (the episode) plays out like a psychological horror movie starring BMO. The episode begins as we find BMO and Football (the character) mid-conversation telling each other how much they love each other. The plot is set into motion when Football asks BMO if she could spend a day on the other side of the mirror and the two trade places. Football, elated to be free, frolics in the grass outside the treehouse and makes friends with a duck she dubs Carlos. She is so excited by the world that she decides that she won’t return to the mirror.
We see BMO inside the mirror, portrayed in some of the simplest but most surreal visuals in the show, which makes the moment when Football tells it she won’t be returning to the mirror all the more frightening. But the episode then switches point of view, we are placed in Football’s point of view as BMO terrorizes her by appearing on every reflective surface threatening to send her to “the dirt hole.” This leads to one of BMO/Football’s greatest sequences in which the little robot grabs a shillelagh and begins to destroy every reflective object in the treehouse.
Through all the running and smashing and scaring, Football ends up falling into the pond in front of the treehouse. This brings the episode to an end paralleling its beginning as BMO and Football tell each other they love each other again because Football can now live in the pond and experience the outdoors and be with all her friends (which, yes, just means Carlos).
4. Davey (S5, E7)
In which BMO learns a painful lesson about giving people ideas. Finn is feeling overwhelmed by his rabid fans, so when BMO assures him that its adorable bank robber costume is just a disguise, Finn gets an idea.
Finn then buzzes off the majority of his long blond hair while BMO sobs and cries “your beauty is destroyed!” It’s worth noting that this hits a bit close to home for me as a long-haired blond who is worried my partner, friends, and family will react the same way if I ever lose or cut my hair. Having made himself look more like George Costanza than Legolas, Finn asks BMO how he looks and BMO, in a moment of great pain and fear, tells him “like the devil!”
Davey is a perfect example of how even when BMO is only in an episode for one of eleven minutes, it can make that time count and give us iconic BMO content with its adorable outfits and fantastically delivered lines.
3. Come Along With Me (S10, E13)
One of the greatest finales ever made of course comes with some of BMO’s best moments. Come Along With Me begins far in the future in an Ooo that viewers don’t recognize, and follows two new characters, Shermy and Beth, searching for the King of Ooo. They climb a mountain and at the top find BMO living in a cave filled with items from throughout the show’s history. Shermy and Beth present BMO with Finn’s old mechanical arm that they’ve found and BMO agrees to tell them the story of “the great gum war” which leads us into the main story of the finale.
BMO in a princess crown and fake beard as the King of Ooo would be enough to land the episode on this list alone, but the episode gives us one of BMO’s most beautiful moments (and one of the best of the show). When Jake finds the treehouse destroyed from battle he shrinks down in the fetal position, BMO finds him and says that it knows Jake does his best to protect it and Finn, but sometimes they’ll get hurt, then asks “how about today you let me be the papa?” and begins to sing a song that will never fail to make me cry.
2. Ketchup (S9, E11)
Ketchup is one of the most important episodes of Adventure Time simply because it focuses on Marceline and BMO. The episode begins when BMO shows up at Marceline’s house ready to help fight the vampires. Marceline has to let BMO down by telling it they’ve already all been defeated but asks it for help accessing a flash drive she found. While they wait for BMO to process the data, they catch up and regale each other with tales of their time apart.
We see both of their stories animated in distinct art styles and BMO’s is one of the best alternate animation styles used in the show. BMO’s retelling of the Islands arc begins somewhat accurately with Finn, Jake, and BMO on a sailing journey, but quickly turns into a story about them riding on a giant flying cat with legs on its back. Marceline’s story, for which she creates puppets to put on a proper show, seems more true to life and gives us some insight into her and Princess Bubblegum’s relationship.
All this would already make the episode land as high as it does on this list, but it’s the final minutes that make it one of the most emotional episodes of the show as well. Having processed the data from Marceline’s drive, BMO begins a slideshow of pictures of young Marceline playing on the beach with her mother. The pictures seem to fill Marceline with a somewhat painful nostalgia and she asks BMO to tell her a story about the people in the pictures, leading to the third alternate animation sequence in the episode.
The story is bittersweet, a “moon lady” who can only come out during eclipses becomes best friends with a little girl on one such outing before needing to return to the moon. BMO’s story makes Marceline tear up and she thanks it for the beautiful story and BMO replies “well, it’s a beautiful picture,” and we all cry.
1. BMO Noire (S4, E17)
BMO Noire is not only BMO’s best episode of Adventure TIme, it’s also a fantastic self contained film noir. The episode follows BMO as it works to solve the case of Finn’s missing sock. Early in the episode, color drains from the animation and BMO begins a detached and world weary (or at least as much as that’s possible) voiceover that carries throughoaut the episode, placing us firmly in noir territory.
But that’s not all, the episode also contains some classic hard-boiled quotables (a past relationship is called “dinosaur bones”), a femme fatale (played by a chicken with very sloppy lipstick), a cop telling our shamus to stay out of police business, and a number of twists, turns, and betrayals.
Beyond BMO as our private dick, the cop, and the femme fatale, the episodes cast of characters includes a petty thief that’s much smarter than anyone gives him credit for and a dangerous club owner who runs the hottest place in town (“town” here meaning the treehouse). To be fair, this is an episode that was essentially tailor made for me, any BMO focused episode is going to make me happy and I’m obsessed with noir in all its iterations, including the loving parody starring an adorable little robot variety.
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